8. The miracle of forgiveness
It was still very early in the morning, when the rising sun emerged timidly, to challenge the darkness of the night.
Alone, a young man went up the narrow path through the woods, to go to the chapel of the Archangels, where a venerable old priest lived ascetically together with four other brothers. He was the abbot at this small monastery, a spiritual father renowned for the love and compassion which he showed to those who went for confession.
Soon, the young man was kneeling at the feet of this holy spiritual father and opened his heart to confess all his sins.
The young man had recently returned from the path of profligacy, on which he had lived up to now, and was now struggling with much pride, to live according to the will of God. Sometimes he succeeded, but sometimes not, with the result that he was falling into the same mistakes and sins. Then his heart would fill up with sorrow and frustration and he often thought of giving up.
Satan, who until now had him tied tightly with his satanic bondages and easily guided through the streets of sin, sowed thoughts of hopelessness and despair in him. He said that he belonged to him and that there is no salvation for him anymore.
The young man was struggling very hard to detach himself from these satanic bondages, which is why every now and then he ran to his holy spiritual father, to confess his mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
That is what he came to do today, to get a little courage in the struggle for his salvation.
-Spiritual father, I again ask you to forgive me. I ask you to forgive me for the same carnal mistakes I made and I hurt my God. I feel shame, because I continuously make the same mistake and I do not have the strength to defeat it. I feel I am the most unworthy person in the world and many times I am ashamed to look at the icon of my sweet Jesus. I know I hurt Him continuously by the nails of my sins. Does He forgive me? Does He love me as I am so sinful or does He turn me way and send me far from Him, every time He sees me fall into sin? Give me some courage, a little strength. I do not want to go back to my old profligate life. Tell me, if the Lord loves me and tolerates the mistakes I make.
The young man said this and much more, kneeling at the feet of the holy spiritual father, while tears of pain were pouring continuously from his eyes with sadness for his sins.
-My beloved child, do not grieve and be discouraged for the weakness that tortures your body. Our sweet Jesus is very merciful to all His children and especially to all those who are struggling to free themselves from the evil bondage of sin. Do not doubt that He loves and adores you. Even if you make big mistakes and sins, He loves you like a mother loves her baby. He loves you so much, with so much tenderness and maternal love, that if you could only feel it, you would never want to sin again and not to hurt Him as the mother of your soul.
-Isn't He angry when I make these mistakes?
-A real mother, my child, never gets angry with the weaknesses of her child. She just suffers together with her child, because she sees it suffering from the evil of Satan. This pain makes her kneel before the throne of God and begs Him on behalf of her only treasure.
-What does Christ do, when He sees me falling and not having the strength to fight or resist the power of sin?
-Christ, my child, as I told you, is like a mummy. He is holding you tightly in His sweet embrace and whispers continuously in the ears of your soul, sweet motherly words that every mummy says to her baby. He knows very well how weak you are, but He also knows how much you don't want to do something that would hurt His divine heart. Therefore, whenever you are led astray by the cunning of Satan and fall into various mistakes, He doesn't leave you, but rather, squeezes you more tightly in His motherly arms and waits for the moment when you recover from your mistake and humbly apologize to Him. Then, like a mother who sees her baby full of the filth and dirt of its sins, will first clean it of any dirt and then dresses it in the new clothes of repentance. I will not forget, my child, an incident that happened to me a few years ago and became the reason to change the strict way in which I faced until then every sinner, who came to confess to me. Would you like me to tell you it?
-I don't just want to, but anxiously wait to hear it!
-A young man, who suffered from the same mistakes as yours, once came to this monastery to confess and to stay for a night. I then had the habit from my own spiritual father, who was a strict observer of spiritual moral values, to set big canons to sinners, as atonement for the sins they had done and could not stop. So I was thinking of putting such a big canon on this young man. The distress, however, of his heart and his many tears touched my heart and I did not want to do it. I wondered that, if he was my child, if I had given birth to him, would I have been so severe and so cruel? I found myself being more like a judge of the people for their mistakes, which, depending on the size of the sins, I would make the relevant penalties, and less like a father who would suffer and cry for my child wounded by sin. I felt that God was sad, that I behaved in such a cruel manner. I was being more like a foster father to His children, than a normal, affectionate and loving father to His offspring. I was very embarrassed and did not know how to handle the situation. With these reflections I went to sleep that night. Then a heavenly vision or dream, I do not know exactly what it was, enlightened my soul and helped me understand the magnitude of His divine mercy. It was as if I was in a beautiful church and saw the young man had come to me for confession. It was the time for the Holy Mass and the priest made his grand entrance holding in his hands the holy Sacraments. Right and left of him was a crowd of bright shining angels who were spreading incense. But when I noticed more clearly, I saw the priest was holding in his hands a beautiful little child, who smiled with sweetness to the entire congregation and blessed them. When he came close to my young man, he stopped the procession and this child, who I understood immediately, was our Lord Jesus as a small child, came close to the young man and looked at him with much love and affection. He was crying woefully and was asking for forgiveness. Ashamed for his mistakes and sins, he did not dare to raise his eyes up and look at the little Christ. Then, the most merciful little Jesus stretched out His divine hands and touched with much affection and tenderness the young man's face and lifted it up slowly until their eyes met. I never saw more sweet, tender and affectionate eyes! As if they were talking and told the young man, how much sweet Jesus loves him and that He forgives him for all the mistakes he made! The eyes of the young man ran with tears of joy and regret, while little Jesus smiled so sweetly! Then He turned to me and told me with much sweetness but with a sad expression: "For My suffering children I came to earth to be crucified. To deliver them from the bondages of Satan. I beg you to be merciful, as I your God am and do not allow your hardness be the cause of My tormented children being lost from My embrace. Be merciful, merciful, merciful." He said it to me three times and then both He and the vision were lost in a bright light. I will never forget the sweetness of little Jesus, but also the pain and anguish in His eyes, for all the souls wounded by sin. Since then, I only want to convey compassion to all sinful souls, who with pride are struggling for the blessed path of repentance.
-Thank you, my father, for the heavenly story you told me. I think I already learnt the most beautiful lesson that will help me fight with pride. I want to be liberated from my sinful bonds and give great joy to my well-beloved Saviour and King Jesus!
-I wish, my child, with my whole heart that you succeed.