“How do I receive the grace of God?”
Last week our Holy Father Pope Benedict visited the monastery where Martin Luther studied for the priesthood and was ordained.
The Pope spoke with admiration about the depth of Luther’s desire for God:
‘How do I receive the grace of God?’ The fact that this question was the driving force behind Luther’s whole life never ceases to make a deep impression on me.
The Holy Father went on to outline how different we are now. The contemporary attitude effectively declares: ‘God doesn’t care about my foibles. If He actually does judge me, He magnanimously overlooks all my small failings.’
But, the Pope asked, are our failings really so small? “Is not the world laid waste by the corruption of great and small alike? No, evil is no small matter.”
The Pope went on to say:
We need God; we were created to have a relationship with Him. The more the world withdraws from God, the clearer it becomes that man, in the hubris of his power, in his emptiness of heart and his longing for satisfaction and happiness, increasingly loses his life.
Luther asked himself, “Where do I stand before God?” We must ask ourselves the same question. And when we do, Scripture provides us with the perfect prayer to make:
Justice is with the Lord, our God, and we are filled with shame…
We have been only too ready to disregard the Lord’s voice…
and each of us went after the desires of his own wicked heart.
Luther found himself paralyzed by his own inadequacy before the glory of God. But we need not so find ourselves. We believe in the forgiveness of sins ministered by the Church. God has plans for us involving happiness and not woe. A perfectly fresh start is never more than a good Confession away.