ARCHBISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN’S MESSAGES – LENTEN SEASON (3)
 Creative Despair. There are two kinds of emptiness, the vast vacuum of a canyon which will never be filled, and the expectant emptiness of a nest hollowed out in preparation for the birth of the birds. So also there are two kinds of despair, the Satanic despair, which refuses to give in to God’s mercy, and the creative despair of those who allow their misery to be remedied by God …… as with King David, who cried, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.”
So long as such mercy is available for all who despair of their own confusion and conflicts and inner incompleteness, it follows that sin is never the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing is the refusal to recognize sins. For if we are sinners, there is a Savior. If there is a Savior, there is a Cross. If there is a Cross, there is a way of appropriating it to our lives, and our lives to it. When that is done, despair is driven out and we have the “Peace which the world cannot give.”
 The Sick are Healed. Those who think they are healthy but have a hidden moral cancer are incurable; the sick who want to be healed have a chance. All denial of guilt keeps people out of the area of love and, by inducing self-righteousness, prevents a cure. The two facts of healing in the physical order are: a physician cannot heal us unless we put ourselves into his hands, and we will not put ourselves into his hands unless we know that we are sick. In like manner, a sinner’s awareness of sin is one requisite for his recovery; the other is his longing for God. When we long for God, we do so not as sinners, but as lovers.
 We Hold the Keys. A famous painting by Holman Hunt represents Our Blessed Lord knocking at an ivy-covered door with a lantern in His hand. Holman Hunt was critized on the ground that he had no latch on the outside of the door. His answer was, “Of course not. The latch is on the inside. We alone can open it.”
It is for free people to accept or reject the favors and blessings of God. We must will to receive. Heartfelt prayer is the opportunity to let in what would otherwise be left out. House plants cannot live without water; the flowers will give us their blossoms only if we give them water. Windows will let in light, if we clean them. Our hearts will let in God, if we purify them.
 Regret, Remorse or Repentance. After the sins and failings of our past, there can be either regret, remorse or repentance. Regret and remorse leave us prisoners of the past, and incapable of moving beyond self-reproach ……
Repentance is a higher kind of remorse that is never sterile; it lays hold of the past by undoing it through penance. Both Judas and Peter denied Our Lord, but Judas repented unto himself, which was regret and remorse, and took his own life; Peter repented unto the Lord, which produced a new man …… The remorseful person considers himself stupid, the repentant person considers himself a sinner. Godly sorrow makes one grieve because he has sinned and hurt someone he loves.
 Storing up Wealth. When they have reached middle age, many people hold in their hands most of the things they coveted in their youth. The danger is that they may settle for just that, refusing to see anything beyond success and the monotony of repeating it.
Money becomes important not because it has value to purchase, but because it is “more”; it gives sense of power …… Every power of the mind and body is pressed into service to augment the store of what CAN NEVER BE USED IN A LIFETIME. Finally, money becomes the scale and the measure of everything. It determines the worth of a person rather than his virtue.
Source: Path to Peace [excerpted from the works of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen by James E. Adams for Creative Communications for the Parish, St. Louis, MO: 1985]
Jakarta, April 6, 2011 [The 4th Week of Lent]
The Christian Pilgrim (compiler)