Have We Made the Most of the Month of June?
(This post was written by Ryan Verret.)
It is already the end of June and one of the things that I am doing this summer is really trying to slow down and be a little more reflective. As this month wraps up I wanted to make sure that we, as Catholics, take some time to think about the gift of these past few weeks. For example, this past month the Church reminded us of the fundamental role that being pardoned has in our constant need for healing, growth, and conversion.
Recall that we started off the month with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. This feast day and its sacramental image has always been important to Mary Rose and me. It is an image we keep displayed in a prominent place in our home that reminds us of the tender compassion our Heavenly Father bestows upon the world through the Incarnation of His only Son. Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor, wrote: "Does not this one devotion contain a summary of all our religion, and a guide to a more perfect life? Indeed, it more easily leads our minds to know Christ the Lord intimately, and it more effectively turns our hearts to love Him more ardently and to imitate Him more perfectly." Divine Love, the Incarnation (hypostatic union), and the remaining presence of God in the sacraments are all caught up in the image that continues to lift up humanity—Jesus lifting up and offering his very heart.
And then the readings this month have so much to do with the reality of both sin, it’s destructive effects, and, more importantly, the power that forgiveness and mercy has in restoring God’s own image and likeness, the Imago Dei. A particular reading that always gets my attention and provides an ongoing source of reflection and challenge has to do with the story of the “sinful woman” and the Pharisees. Here we have a very hurt individual who has probably hit “rock bottom” and is struggling to reclaim her dignity. She’s crawling on the floor and approaching Christ, Mercy Incarnate, from behind as He is seated at the table. If you allow yourself, you can feel the effects of sin and shame within this woman who somehow finds the courage to ask to be freed. Little does she know, her redemption has already begun through mysterious way that grace operates in all of our lives:
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7)
“Her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love” is probably one of most revealing mysteries of about life that I have ever heard. This divine law seems to go against our nature that desires to keep the sinner down for all the wrong that they committed. Instead, what we see again the mystery we proclaim at every Easter Vigil, “O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam that gained for us so great a redeemer!”
And a final point about June that I don’t want to overlook has to do with Father’s Day. As a dad myself of three with one on the way, I know that being a father is an amazing gift that must be protected and nurtured. I think often of St. Paul’s prayer when I’m not sure if I’m doing the best I can: “I bend my knee to God the Father who is the source of all Fathers in Heaven on Earth.” I look to keep him as the model of how I should relate to my son and daughters in order to protect the bond that God has allowed us to share. One of the areas that I really seek God’s guidance in has to do with discipline. My hope is that when discipline is needed my children’s experience will be one that forms and shapes them into being the person God desires them to be rather than living in shame and afraid to ask for and experience forgiveness. I won’t do this perfectly but I have hope no matter what that God will always be present to guide, protect, and inspire.
June is coming to end and the month of July ushers in more summer vacations and hopefully a slower and more reflective pace. As we continue to spend more “quality time” with our families and friends let us keep in mind the great gifts that have been promised to us in our Heavenly Father. It is He who is able to always turn the hearts of our sons back to us and remain a constant source of mercy and peace.