“There would not be so great ease in sinning today, if there would not also be such great ease in absolving.” – St Lenard of Port Maurice
We have just celebrated the single most important feasts of the entire year: the Easter Triduum and Easter Sunday. Throughout this time, we reflected on the passion of our most Blessed Savior. On good Friday especially, we meditated in a special way upon the Precious Blood our Lord shed during his ignominious death on the cross. Consider the abundance of Blood Christ poured out during his passion. Although one drop of Blood would have been enough to redeem us, He emptied himself completely. A priest put it well when he stated in a recent homily,
You know that one tear… one tear… flowing from one of the sacred eyes of the Divine Infant in Bethlehem could have saved countless universes. Just one drop of Blood flowing from the circumcised Christ child could have redeemed an infinite number of worlds.Anonymous Priest, “Divine Delayed Absolution”
Christ poured out all of his most precious Blood for love of us. This Blood is what our Savior chose to pay for our salvation. It continues its cleansing mission even to this day. Nowhere are the redemptive qualities and effects of this Sacred Blood so deeply felt than in the Holy Mass and in the confessional. Through the Mass, we are given the Blood of Christ as our spiritual nourishment; through the confessional we are absolved by this Blood and restored to sanctifying grace.
Yet have we fully appreciated this wonderful sacrifice and gift? Because of the availability and abundance of these sacraments, have we, to some extent, grown accustomed to the saving Blood of Our Lord. Have we perhaps taken these sacraments too lightly and put off amending our lives for some other time? The Carmelite mystic, Venerable Mary of Agreda, observes:
Souls accustomed to the blessings of God… usually aggravate sins by a certain contempt for the very blessings and a certain abuse of the divine things. For by the abundance of the divine favors they fall into a dangerous dullness of mind. They begin to think little of the divine favors and they become irreverent… They have lost the appreciation and veneration of the curing helps of the Church, namely the sacraments.Venerable Mary of Agreda
Many are frustrated and understandably so, about the scarcity of these sacraments given this current crisis. But again we must recognize that this separation from the sacraments is, as all things ultimately are, from God. We should most certainly avoid mummering like the Jews of old, who tried God’s patience in the desert (Exodus 16:2). This trial is no doubt for our own good; maybe we need to be shaken up a bit to push us towards further conversion. Perhaps this is actually a merciful Divine intervention. The priest continues,
Many Catholics… are bashing Bishops. “How could they not provide easy access to the confessional in this crisis…what if one were to die in mortal sin!” And these people make an important point. But in all this complaining I have not heard a single person suggest simply: “Stay out of mortal sin.” We are in a crisis here, so wake up.Anonymous Priest, “Divine Delayed Absolution”
While we do not see this much today, “Delayed Absolution” used to be a common practice of the Church. If a person willfully or continually places themselves in a near occasion of sin, his confessor may choose to delay absolution until the penitent is better disposed to receive the sacrament. This is done, not as an act of malice, but for the good of the penitent. If one is not actively working to amend his life, then the priest may defer absolution until a later time. St. Alphonsus Liguori writes,
When the confessor knows that it will be useful to delay or defer absolution, he is bound to defer it, for he is obliged to adopt the most efficacious remedies for the amendment of his penitent.Saint Alphonsus Liguori
The current epidemic and cascading effects we are now experiencing could be called a “Divine Interdict.” The ordinary channels of grace, including the Holy Mass and in many places confession, are unavailable, or at least more difficult to obtain. This separation from the sacred Blood of Christ, particularly through the restrictions imposed on the sacrament of confession, could be further described as a “Divine Delayed Absolution.” As this same priest puts it,
We have woken up to the fact that the Blood of Christ seems more distant to us, as access to the sacraments becomes more difficult for many… The ordinary doors to that flow of Blood are being closed up more and more… We are seeing sometime akin to a Divine Delayed, or deferred, Absolution.Anonymous Priest, “Divine Delayed Absolution”
Perhaps we have grown complacent and overly familiar with the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and its saving effects. If this time is in fact a Divine Delayed Absolution, then how should we respond? This may be a warning, a wakeup call if you will. There has been much abuse of this most precious gift in recent years. Perhaps God is reminding us that his Blood is not to be taken lightly. He will only tolerate so much sacrilege. If this is indeed a “Divine Delayed Absolution” for the purpose of our conversion, then it is a great mercy. We have been temporarily separated from the saving power of Christ’s Blood through the absence of the sacraments. Now we are suddenly finding the need to truly commit to remain in a state of grace. We are finding it necessary to truly resolve never to sin again.
We should respond to this Divine intervention, this Divine act of mercy, with a renewed abhorrence for sin. We should make a firm commitment to shun all sin, especially mortal sin, and stay in the state of grace in this time of uncertainty. Christ poured out every drop of his Most Sacred Blood for us. How often have we neglected to show proper gratitude and reverence for this gift. Maybe our merciful Savior is giving us a second chance, a time to think things over, and an occasion to amend our lives. Let us renew our appreciation for how beautiful and sacred the treasure of the saving Blood of Christ really is. May we resolve to always treat it with the utmost reverence.
“For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
– Words from the Divine Mercy chaplet given by our Lord to St. Faustina.
Below is an excellent sermon, from which I have taken numerous excerpts for this article. The priest wishes to remain anonymous. I highly recommend it.
“Divine Delayed Absolution”, April 9, 2020.
– Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Mother and patron of the universal Church, pray for us.
“Divine Delayed Absolution”, Homily. Regena Prophetarum, April 9, 2020. http://www.reginaprophetarum.org/audio/20200409-Divine-Delayed-Absolution.mp3