Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Novena to St. Francis de Sales, Day Three: Shame and Contrition

To persevere in the devout life it is a matter of deciding upon some excellent and generous maxims, with the right intention. The first I would suggest to you is that of Saint Paul, "All turns out well for those who love God." [cf. Rom 8:28] If we agree that God can and does draw good out of evil, will He not do that especially for those who give themselves to Him without reserve? Even our very sins (from which may God preserve us!) are destined by Providence for the good of those who serve God. If David had not sinned, he would not have learned his deep sense of humility! ... (Letters 1420; O. XVIII, p. 209)
How encouraging those words are to this sinner.

A dear confessor told me that shame was not of God. Contrition, yes; shame, no. Shame leads away from the forgiving love of God, as if that love, that forgiveness, is not ours. It is a deception; God has promised his forgiveness. He has shown His great love, an unending and undeserved love that knows no boundaries. Shame denies that. Shame tells us that we are not deserving of love…of forgiveness…of hope.

Shame keeps men and women away from the confessional. It is a voice that demeans the promises of God and stands between misery and salvation. It is a voice that speaks lies:

"You are a phony. "
"You are not a man of God."
"You are not a good mother."
"If anyone knew who you really were you would be ruined."
"You are a poor excuse for a Catholic."
"You are a poor excuse for a parent."
"Your children are a mess and it's all your fault."
"You are a poor excuse for a daughter, a son."
"If they knew what you really were like, you would be run out of the Church…"

The words are painful, and so many succumb to them. They separate us from prayer, the sacraments, and from the love God so freely offers. They deny the truth St. Francis de Sales tells us today -- a biblical truth, that God uses all things for good when we love Him. EVEN our sin and failings.

As we continue our novena let us ask St. Francis de Sales to intercede on our behalf to change shame to contrition, that we may reap the goodness God has in store for we who love Him. May we have the grace to withstand the lies that shame whispers in our minds and throw ourselves on the Mercy of God in the sacraments and in prayer.

Novena Prayers
Thanks to the Oblates for today's quote!


  1. Those words are the exact ones I've told myself many times-I am so grateful that grace is greater than shame, love is greater than hate and forgiveness is greater than sin.

    Thanks for this great post!

  2. A perceptive and pithy post, thanks for this.

  3. I love St. Francis de Sales. His motto: "Speak the truth in charity" is something I have to keep reminding myself of. I love his "Introduction to the Devout Life".


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