Sunday, September 30, 2007

'How do you heal the scars of sin?'

I arrived home tonight after a mini-vacation and found dozens of e-mails from people who had seen me on EWTN's "Life on the Rock." Many of them were forwarded to me by the show's producer; they were viewers' questions that could not be answered on the air due to time constraints.

Because I leave tomorrow night for several days of speaking appearances in Dublin and London, I am sorry that I will be unable to answer most of those e-mails — or indeed much of my huge backlog of unanswered messages — until I return on October 9. However, one question that was sent in to EWTN jumped out at me, and I would like to answer it now:

How do you heal the scars of sin? Thanks.


Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your profound question. Because I am short on time, I will try to answer it as concisely I would have were I asked it on "Life on the Rock." However, it is deserving of a book of its own, and perhaps readers may suggest relevant books in the comments section. (One that I would suggest, which I am currently reading for the first time, is Fulton J. Sheen's Lift Up Your Heart.)

There are two kinds of scars: the ones on the outside, which are visible to everyone, and the ones on the inside, which are known only to you.

The scars of sin on the outside are the things that other people know about your past behavior. These, sadly, cannot be changed. You can choose to limit what you share about them; not everyone has to know everything about you. But if others already know what you have done, then the only thing you can do is resolve every day to show them — and, more importantly, God — that you are no longer who you were.

Brandon Heath, "I'm Not Who I Was"

Even if you become a new creation in Christ, some people who know your scars will never let you live them down. It is very hard to deal with that kind of rejection. I can only tell you that not everyone is like that. As you continue on your path of regeneration, you will eventually find friends who are understanding and forgiving. In the meantime, offer up your sufferings to Jesus on behalf of the very people whose judgmentalism causes you to suffer. If you do so, I believe with all my heart that you will receive graces.

The scars of sin that are on the inside may hurt just as much as the ones on the outside, but there is much more that you can do to heal them. While they may never disappear completely, they will diminish greatly if you apply the right medicine — confession, prayer, spiritual direction, and corporal works of mercy.

Corporal works of mercy are important because, as their name implies, they are a kind of prayer that you can do with your whole body — visiting the sick; giving food, drink, clothing, and shelter to the needy, and helping others who are unable to help themselves. While confession removes the stain of sin from your soul, I believe that any good works one does with one's body helps one heal from the lingering emotional effects of sins committed with the body.

The most important thing to remember is that God promises that if you delight yourself in Him, He shall give you the desires of your heart. That means that He will heal you. What's more, we have His word that, should we join Him in Heaven, He will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

              God bless you,