Gift of Peace

One of the wonderful things that happened during the Holy Week was the presence of so many people desiring to come for confessions. In the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, the long queuing began since Holy Tuesday evening, the whole day of Holy Wednesday until Good Friday. Penitents kept coming non-stop until midnight. Although it is not something unusual since there is daily confession in this Shrine from 4:30 – 7:00 pm, yet the Holy Week drew an added attraction for people to make their Lenten Obligation.
I was in the confessional during these days perhaps between 10-12 hours listening to people from all walks of life. The experience was really tiring and exhausting. So much negative energies were transferred on me; so many sad stories of failures; so many spiritual garbage were dumped. At the end of the day I felt “drunk” of so much catharsis heaped on me. I became like a shock absorber of remorseful hearts.
But the amazing thing was, I witnessed so much miracle and change that happened in silence. When I gazed upon queuing penitents waiting for their turn, I saw “dead people” walking. They looked melancholic but hopeful. Some came frightened and even disturbed. Some have lost contact of this sacrament for 10 years or more. All of them entered into their tomb in sincerity and surrender. They came out brand new. They have experienced resurrection! Peace and forgiveness are powerful forces only God can give.
One of the apostles of the confessional is St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. It is said that he was listening in confession daily for 16-18 hours. When he started as the Cure of Ars, that out of the way forsaken parish in France he was sent, he was not immediately that zealous in sitting for confessions for hours. It was an act of grace that brought him to this realization.
While praying before the Blessed Sacrament, God gave him the grace to see himself as he really was. For the very first time he saw how pitiable and miserable he was that brought him to tears. He was filled with such horror and abhorrence for sin that grieved him deeply.  For him, it was God’s inspiration not to shame him but in order that he may trust in his mercy. He realized that he could give so much service to people who come to confession offering them a privilege to experience God’s strength and consolation. It is God’s divine mercy and unlimited compassion that one experiences at the confessional.
When John Paul II canonized St. Faustina Kowalska on 30 April 2000, he surprised the entire world by also establishing on that same day Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter Season. In his writings, he described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the uplifting message people need to hear for the third millennium. This was also the reason he canonized this mystic nun associated with the message in Rome not in Poland to emphasize that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.
The gospel tells us that the first act the risen Jesus did was to announce to his disciples his gift of peace. It was now evening of the first Easter Sunday. The doors were locked and the disciples were huddled together in the Upper Room out of fear. Suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst proclaiming: “Peace be with you!” It was such a surprisingly pleasant reunion. They were amazed to see him alive still with fresh wounds on his hands and on his side. His presence also filled them with fear and shame.
But instead of haunting them with their boastings and betrayals, he graced them with peace and joy! He breathed on them the Holy Spirit making them brand new persons with a future and with a mission. They have seen a magnanimous, forgiving risen Messiah with a noble heart oozing with Divine Mercy. With this experience they were never the same. Indeed the fruit of mercy is peace.
The message of the Divine Mercy shows us that God’s love is greater than our sins. His mercy is greater than our fears. The experience of God’s love brings peace the world does not know. Such peace comes from a conviction that only God can fill up our lives.

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