Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hardened Hearts

The Holy Spirit works constantly in us and around us sustaining all life, bringing light and healing to our bodies and souls. Never does He rest. Love is unstoppable. Though at times His work is hidden from our intelligence, we can be assured that this healing is taking place. Provided that our hearts are open to Him to a degree. This is why repeated mortal sin is so dangerous. The human heart can become so hardened that it repels and refuses the love of God. God never gives up, though. Even when a human heart completely refuses Him entrance He continues to work on the soul through external circumstances. Archbishop Fulton Sheen called this "black grace". It is when God uses the negative experiences in a person's life to obtain a positive result. Like letting a person hit rock bottom so that he will see that he is on the wrong path. Often people will turn to God in their extreme misery.
I've had some experience with "black grace" and let me tell you - it's no picnic. Those who have read my blog know that I took the long way (maybe I should call it the wrong way) to God and spent many years stumbling over myself (and everyone else for that matter) before I turned to Him. My turning to Him was a result of this "black grace". Black grace is finding out the hard way where GOD IS NOT. The problem wasn't so much sin as it was sin that was not repented of. God knows we are weak and is quick to forgive but we must ASK for this forgiveness and be sorry for our sins. God is so merciful that those who aren't sorry can even ASK for the grace to be sorry for their sins. And He will give it to them. Amazing. There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome once we turn toward Him.

God is good.

I used to be terrified of the one unforgivable sin that's mentioned in the Bible - the sin against the Holy Spirit. For some reason I was sure that I had inadvertently committed this grave sin. Talk about frightening! This was shortly after my return to the Church and satan played upon this as much as possible. Laugh if you will, but I lived in horror for quite a while thinking that it was finished, all over for me. Sometimes things can get a bit rough for the newly converted, especially for those who are overly scrupulous. The same thing happened to Billy Graham. After having some bad thoughts about the Holy Spirit he was certain he was damned for all eternity. I wonder how many other people satan has tried to pull this trick on?

Just in case this has happened to anyone else:
The sin against the Holy Spirit is the continual refusal of God's mercy even until the point of death. It is final impenitence. So those of you who are still alive can breath a sigh of relief (lol) !


  1. Great post, Mary. You have shown beautifully how much God loves us and wants us to be with Him. I too know about "black grace"~Not the path God would have us take, but it can get us to Him as both our lives and those of many others can attest.
    God bless!

  2. Karin,
    Looking around the earth today I would say He employs "black grace" quite often :) He will use any means necessary to save our souls. His mercy is truly infinite. God bless you, too!

  3. I never heard of black grace, but it makes perfect sense. There is a lot of mercy in letting someone hit rock bottom and giving them the grace to finally "do something" about their life.

  4. A lot of good sense in this post Mary.

    I was going to write about differences in sins in my Blog - still might.

    As you say, God knows about our weaknesses, (He created us), and He realises the difference there is between sins of weakness and sins of stubborness, inpertinence, and outright refusal to believe in Him, and even of standing in defiance of Him.

    That's what Christ meant about the unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees did not believe in Christ as the Son of God and went as far as attributing His powers to the devil. They encouraged others to defy and to turn against Christ.

    God bless you for this post.

  5. Maria,
    I first heard this term used in one of Fulton Sheen's books but I can't remember which one. It does make sense, doesn't it? Archbishop Sheen had a way of helping people understand God's great mercy through terms like "black grace". I snagged it from him and use it all the time :)

  6. Victor,
    Thanks for your thoughts on this. It's funny, I was thinking about writing about differences in sin on my blog too. I hope you do write about this because I think this is an area where a lot of people become confused.

    The Pharisees did not believe because their hearts were so hard. They had the Son of God right in front of them and still attributed his works to Satan. As you say, they stood in defiance of the truth even though it was staring them in the face. Because Jesus is not physically present now some theologians claim that this sin cannot happen on earth anymore but only when the person comes before Christ for his or her judgment. If while standing in the presence of pure truth they still refuse Him then they have committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Others say this can still happen on earth. What do you think?

    God bless you too, Victor :)

  7. You're welcome, JBR :) I hope you're feeling a little better today!

  8. I never heard of "Black Grace" but I certainly understand what it means. Thankfully, the Lord is there to meet us and carry us...even when we hit rock bottom!

  9. Hi Mary! Thanks for visiting :) God's mercy is amazing, isn't it?

  10. thankyou for your words over at my blog Mary. They were very special. I am taking a break from blogging for a while but wanted to say i appreciate your love and support. God bless you.

  11. Hi Mary,

    I really don't know whether the sin against the Holy Spirit can still be committed on earth or not; despite what theologians say. I believe that God knows the real INTENT behind the sin and only He decides what is forgiveable (by Him) or not.

    Theologians have helped confuse many issues over the years trying to second guess God and His ways.

    You have convinced me to write something about this on my Blog - Father Ignatius style.

    God bless.

  12. I like the term "black grace". Thanks for this Mary!

  13. Ros,
    I hoped that they would lift your spirits a bit. We are all in this battle together, my friend. I am praying for you very intensely so please don't feel alone. Jesus never, ever abandons us and we can trust Him even in our darkest hours. May His peace cover your heart.

  14. Victor,
    Oh good! It's a tough subject to tackle and I'm looking forward to reading your story!

    Yes, sometimes I get confused by what theologians say on certain subjects. I have to admit it muddles my brain sometimes and I have trouble sorting these things out. You're right on the mark saying that only God can judge these things.

    God bless you too, Victor!

  15. Anne,
    I'm glad you liked this. Archbishop Sheen's term inspires hope because by these simple words he is showing that God uses everything for our good - even our failures!

    I loved your post yesterday :)

  16. Black Grace - love this term. For years I looked for God everywhere He wasn't but His black grace came through for me.

    If final impenitence is the sin which can't be forgiven, only God knows who is finally impenitent because only God knows our hearts at the time of death.

    I am reminded of the story of Bishop Sheen visiting a big sinner in the hospital. The man had only a couple of hours left to live and refused repeatedly to confess his sins. He even threw Bishop Sheen out of his room. The good bishop asked him to say "My Jesus Mercy" since he wouldn't confess. Not long after Bishop Sheen left the room a nurse came in and heard the man saying "My Jesus Mercy" which he repeated until he died.

  17. Barb,
    True. Only God knows what lies in a person's heart. We don't actually know for sure what happens to a person while they are dying, either. God certainly gives extraordinary graces to the dying and I'm sure many souls are saved during their final moments.

    Great story! My Jesus Mercy is a powerful prayer :)

  18. I will link to your you mind adding me to your links?

  19. Jackie,
    I have you linked to Beautiful Gate already but I will add you to my other blogs. Thanks for linking me, too :)

  20. Hi,

    I have answered more fully to the points you raise on my Blog.

    God bless.