Hello there! It’s been a while since I last blogged. Before I begin, let me just announce that my previous blog chris-tiu.blogspot.com has been hacked and I don’t have access to it as of the moment. That’s why I created a new site. It’s really sad because we’ve already established a number of subscribers to that blog for the past 4 years. Hope you can help me spread this to more people this time around.
I am writing this in the midst of a 3-day silent retreat in the city. Silent retreat means spending time in silence, prayer and recollection: between you and God alone. Yes, it means not talking to the other participants, but you can always talk to your confessor or spiritual director. There are around 25 of us—all-male students and young professionals. I can’t find a better time to reflect and share my thoughts to you than in this Easter Triduum, when we remember and contemplate Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Allow me to share my personal reflection on this topic since this is only once a year and I believe you may find it useful as well.
In the contemporary world, our lives can get so much caught up with work, work and work, including schoolwork. Couple that with the ubiquity of modern-day technology—we find it almost impossible to detach ourselves from communication, information, entertainment, and the like. I’ll admit that I am one of those guilty of that!
Sad to say, our modern world doesn’t favor reflection. And it is during this moment of absolute silence when we can best listen to our Lord and speak to Him, in order to understand fully His divine will and plan for us. After our first day in retreat, I felt so at home and so at peace. I actually think I can live here—so simple and peaceful.
Today is Good Friday, the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross in order to save us. It is on this same day when the first to be proclaimed a saint was a thief! On the cross, the thief said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when You come to Your kingdom.” Then Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 42-43). This good thief, a.k.a. St. Dismas (or Dimas), was saved because of his faith, repentance and contrite heart!
Our Father God constantly calls us to come back to Him. Just like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, no matter how sinful or lost we can be, God unconditionally accepts us back as long as we repent. He even slaughtered the fattest calf and prepared a huge feast for the younger son who has come back home after years of squandering his wealth.
Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, God always awaits us to go back to him: we repeat in our lives the story of the prodigal son. Conversion is not impossible with the help of the Sacraments and prayer. And it is only then that we experience the joy of inner peace and lasting happiness—because we experience God, who only wants what is best for us, such that we can exclaim as Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am personally loved by God.” That is why Confession is personal, one-on-one, between me and the priest ordained to represent God (because only God can forgive sins), as Our Lord told the first priests, the Apostles, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:23). Then we are cleansed from anything that may hinder our complete union with God. My confessor gave a beautiful analogy of a glass window. He said, “If the glass window is stained and dirty, how can the sunlight enter the room? In the same way if our souls are not clean, how can God enter us?”
I entitled this blog, “Joy of Repentance” because being sorry for our sins should be a cause of joy for us—we are going back to our Father God, whom we know is ever-ready to accept us no matter how sinful we have become! All we have to do is to eat our pride and be humble to say, like the prodigal son in common parlance, “Dad, I’m sorry.” We are just going back home! Is there anything more fun than that? Now, I understand more clearly why St Josemaria calls the Confession as a sacrament of Joy!
Who could have been the happiest man on that first Friday which we call Good? The good thief! Our speaker phrased it very wittingly. “St. Dismas was indeed a thief until the end, because until his last dying breath, he stole heaven and the heart of our Lord!“
P.S. Watch out for parts 2 & 3