Cold fear filled my heart as I waited in the long Confession line, dreading pronouncing the words that named my sin, one I could not bring myself to give up. My courage began to fail me as I drew near the head of the line. Fighting the impulse to slip out of line, my desire to worthily receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament kept me rooted to the floor.
Jesus in today’s Gospel says these words of warning, “[W]hoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin” (Mark 3:29).
The Church helps us understand what Jesus means here. She teaches us that we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit when we doubt His ability to help us, reject His promptings to be drawn back to God when we sin, and do not trust in God’s mercy by refusing to go to the Sacrament of Penance. The Catechism explains, “Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss” (Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1864).
When we give into this despair, we reject the gifts being continually offered by the Holy Spirit. Pope Saint Gregory the Great wrote that the Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Piety to overcome the hardness of heart that prevents us from repenting of our sins. (source)
Piety is the gift that helps us to act as children of God and know Him as the Father He is to us because of our Baptism. When we listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we are filled with a daughterly love towards God, trusting in His forgiveness and fearing to be estranged from Him.
That afternoon as I internally battled my fears, the Holy Spirit was filling me with piety. My love for God was driving me to repent and strive to be rid of my habitual sin. As the colored light from the stained-glass windows flitted across the chapel, I confessed my sin. I received absolution, and that day—after years of confessing that particular sin—the healing graces of the Sacrament finally set me free.
God’s mercy is truly endless.The Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Piety to overcome the hardness of heart that prevents us from repenting of our sins. // Susanna Spencer Click To Tweet
Learn more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our Gift of You course.
Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. She is a contributing author to our children’s devotional prayer book called Rise Up and Theological Editor of the Catechism Studies, the Mystery Studies, and the Works of Mercy study. You can find out more about her here.