St Ignatius Church, Park Avenue, NYC
Tomorrow is the feast day when the universal Church honors a man who was once a slave, Callistus by name. Once a salve, the man earned his freedom and eventually was ordained a Deacon by Pope Zepyrinus. Callistus succeeded the Roman Pontiff who ordained him a Deacon!
There was at the time of Callistus, 3rd century, a practice in our Church that bothered the Pontiff: the consequences of confessing serious sins. No doubt living a part of his life in servitude made him away of the realities of forgiveness and mercy. How could a serious sin which required public penance -- a serious humiliation in itself -- further forbid a return to the reception of the Eucharist? Where was the reality of the forgiveness and mercy of God earned by the suffering and death of Jesus? In allowing those who had committed murders, adultery and fornication to return to the Eucharistic table, Pope Callistus was awarded severe public criticism from some quarters of the Church. Surprise??? Ho doubt the words expressed by St. Paul that we earn complete forgiveness through "the priceless kindness, forbearance and patience" of God had touched this Pope's heart. Let us never judge others who receive the Eucharist by our own standards. We never know the relationship between a sinner and God. I say to myself: look in the mirror whenever the thought crosses my mind that someone should not be receiving the Eucharist. I am not the judge. God knows far better that any of us the ends to which human weakness can push human beings ... who may not be saints!