“Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.” – Day 9 of the Novena of Divine Mercy as recorded in the Diary of St. Faustina
Easter this year was beautiful. I watched as the children I taught were initiated into the Catholic Church. It was truly inspiring. The Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. We celebrated the Devotion of St. Faustina at church and it got me thinking. I was lukewarm. I look back on my life, there were times when I was more fervent, closer to the Lord than other times, but a good majority of my adult life, I was lukewarm. What does that mean? It meant that I said I believed, but I lived a worldly life. I bought into the things society tells us are good. I thought the church was old and outdated. I was embarrassed to tell people I love Jesus. I must not have loved Him very much. Like a teenager embarrassed of her parents, I had yet to grow up and truly proclaim my love. Thankfully my eyes were opened. My sorrow is that it took a tragedy for that to happen. My joy is that His mercy is Divine and is there for me. My hope is that with God’s grace I will remain passionate for Him.
When I look now at what the church teaches, I see life. I see joyful life. When I look at what society teaches, I see death. I see the chains of addiction, to money, materialism, power, popularity, alcohol, sex, pornography, drugs, and self. These things can kill the soul. God brings life to the soul. The contrast for me is stark. But I am no longer afraid. I am no longer embarrassed. Either Jesus meant what he said to us, or He didn’t. Either Jesus was God, or He wasn’t. Either I really love Him, or I don’t. And so because I do love Him, I am grateful for the Magisterium, I am grateful for the Catechism. I am grateful for the church that Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to. When life gets hard, when the suffering is hard, there is the Barque of St. Peter there guide the way for me, that always points us in the direction of the all encompassing love of Christ. I am embarrassed to say how little I read of my own religion before. I believed what other people said without ever reading deeper for myself. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” I know this to be true. I did not know her teachings to be able to proclaim the Truth. I picked and chose the things I would follow and the things I would not. I was part of the problem. Lukewarm.
It is my church that has always said that every life has value and dignity in God’s eyes; That has always told us to go out and feed the hungry, clothe and give shelter to the poor; That has stood by the values that make families stronger; That has extended love to the downtrodden and weak, and has welcomed the sinner. Is my church perfect? No, it is not because it is made up of sinners, and yet because of this that is how I know God’s hand guides it. That through the years with human sin and corruption, she still stands. She has not fallen like corrupt governments of the past. For 2000 years, God has guided her even through difficult times, even when evil seemed to infiltrate. We make it complicated. We humans are selfish. It is God who can strip that selfishness away. He gave us the church to help us understand the way. The church that points to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The book of Revelation 3:15 tells us, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Harsh, but it makes sense. I was pretending. I was a hypocrite. Thankfully, the church welcomes the hypocrite and the sinner. People may laugh at me for being a Jesus freak these days, but I am okay with that. So on Divine Mercy Sunday, and for the days that follow, I pray for the Lukewarm. I pray for the conversion of hearts. I pray for my own heart to stay passionate. I know His mercy encompasses us. Jesus I trust in you.