And What About the Last Judgment?
This month our chatters explore the paradox of God "forgetting" our sins. Does this imply a deliberate choice by God to not remember, or does it carry a different meaning altogether? Moreover, they ponder the significance of the Final Judgment, where all our sins will be laid bare.
Also discussed here is an analogy about winter and spring. For many of us, we are now fully experiencing the transition from the bone-chilling harshness of winter to the warm and life-bringing change of spring. St. Francis de Sales once reflected on this seasonal shift to draw an analogy to the spiritual life. He compared the life of sin to the cold, harsh, and barren winter, while likening the life of grace to the springtime—full of light, life, and warmth.
Join our springtime chatters as they delve into this cyclical topic and contemplate whether there is room in Heaven for experiences akin to winter (in line with St. Francis's analogy).
God saves us through grace while granting us freedom. What are the implications of cooperating with God's will? Furthermore, as we progress in our spiritual journey, can we develop an immunity to sin? If so, do we encounter fewer or more temptations along the way, or do we become more tolerant of them?
Come and witness how these questions are addressed, and engage in prayerful reflection on your own spiritual journey.
If you would like to chat with Catholics like yourself, why not check out our Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and then gather great insights and sharing!
Forgiveness, Forgetting, and Repentance
Question: What does it mean for God to “forget” our sins?
Stacy: He forgives our sins if we are truly repentant.
Priscila: To have done penance for our sins.
Stacy: A priest can “loose on earth or bind on earth” and may have gotten this verse incorrect.
Bridget: Ah!!! Here’s a question I wrestle with: If God forgets, will our sins/why will our sins be revealed at Last Judgment?
Sherry: In the text it almost sounds that our sins cloud the vision for God to see your holy works.
Visitation Sister: Maybe we reveal them, not God.
Bridget: Thank you for that insight, Sr. Susan!!!
Priscila: Even our failings give glory to God by how we finally succeeded.
Sherry: A priest has doubted Sr. Margret Mary’s visions about the Sacred Heart. He did not believe that she spoke with Jesus – or Jesus with her. So in order to test her, he said to her, “next time when you speak to Jesus – ask him what I confessed last time in my confession”. A month later he came back and asked Sr. Margaret Mary – she said that she did speak to Jesus – and that his answer was, ” I do not remember.”
Visitation Sister: Great example! Sometimes we torture ourselves with our past, but God does not.
Stacy: I agree, Sr. Susan, as we are refreshed and in a state of grace after confession, right?
Visitation Sister: Absolutely! But it is amazing that God, all-knowing, forgets! It must be by His Divine Will, not His Divine Intelligence.
Sherry: Absolutely – It is not so much forgetting – but more – they do not exist anymore. Only in our memory.
Ines: Does he “forget forget,” or does he turn away from those sins as if they were forgotten? They don’t exist, in a sense, because they were in the past and have been forgiven, healed by grace.
Stacy: True, Ines, God only exists in the present.
Visitation Sister: I think what Sherry said explains it a bit.
Bridget: Think He shares that gift with His priests? I’ve heard so many say that they honestly do not remember the sins confessed to them.
Priscila: But at the final judgment, isn’t everyone going to know what we did in life just for the sake of people being satisfied with how they ended up where they end up in the end.
Visitation Sister: I am not sure if we all know but maybe those we knew in life know, by our revelation at that time.
Ines: Priscila, maybe it’s not so we can see each other’s faults, but rather we can see how God’s plan was working in every instant of time for the salvation of our souls.
Sherry: I like that, Ines. Sin is “lack of holy love” – in the moment God takes them on – in forgiveness– they are connected to Holy Love – and in a way does not sin anymore by nature.
Denise: That is beautiful. Explain, Sherry. Thank you.
Ines: We get to see the full tapestry from a bird’s eye view.
Priscila: Well, pretty soon with the internet…
Ines: And then we’ll rejoice in God’s saving power and glory!
Priscila: That is true. Yes.
Sherry: I had a horrible day today to be honest – but all this talking about heaven makes me feel better already.
Ines: Oh, Sherry! I’m sorry to hear your day was horrible. God bless you with peace and comfort.
Sherry: Thank you. I receive that blessing gladly.
Visitation Sister: I am so sorry too but glad we are here for you and for each one of us.
Sherry: I am really glad for all of you too.
Bridget: Remember to get your oversized spoon…Look at it on days like today!!!
Ines: We are here for each other, to pray and to support and love.
Priscila: When it rains…. look up for the rainbow.
From Death to Life
Question: Discuss the analogy of winter as sin and spring as the entrance of grace into a soul, giving it new life. This is obviously just an image St. Francis uses, but is there something negative about winter?
Bridget: Winter can make us feel dreary and depressed, BUT! One good thing—winter can make us long for spring; enough misery from sin can make us long for God’s Grace/forgiveness.
Priscila: Everything dies and goes dormant…cold. There is no love…. sin is so cold at times.
Stacy: I was watching EWTN today – and hell was discussed as a very cold place, like winter.
Sherry: Does everything really die in winter, or does it just not bloom?
Visitation Sister: I guess if it revives in the spring, it is not dead but hibernating.
Sherry: That’s what I thought too, Sister.
Visitation Sister: Winter brings beautiful feasts, like Christmas. So not all is depressing, but it is a good image for lack of vibrancy.
Bridget: Priscil, wow: Cold-heartedness is hellish; opposite of God’s desire for our hearts to be open and warm.
Stacy: I guess like souls with mortal sin, winter, dead, but once we come back to God for forgiveness and mercy, our souls bloom again?
Visitation Sister: Good image, Stacy!
Bethany: Sr. Susan, today I joined the morning Mass, and the homily mentioned Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life.
Visitation Sister: Yes, that was the Gospel.
Stacy: Yes, Bethany, spring brings us back to life and we bloom again.
Bethany: Jesus says, don’t worry I am the way, the truth, and the life; believe me, even if you die, you will come back to life.
Ines: Winter isn’t permanent. Sin does not have the last word (unless, of course, we let it).
Bridget: Winter human hibernation, aka “Cabin fever,” supposedly is real…Something there must be in us humans that need the sun (and spiritually: The Son).
Ines: I find winter extremely harsh and depressing, very dark, especially in the northeast U.S.
Visitation Sister: Very good analogy, yes. Grace goes into our souls all times of the year!
Sherry: We had today the first day of spring. It was amazing. Like every year, I forget how beautiful sunny weather can be – and it gets me every year again – the awe of the first days of sunshine.
Bridget: Know what you mean, Sherry. Spring feels like a new beginning; it’s even “green” like the liturgical color of hope.
Sherry: Lol – true, Bridget.
Is There Winter in Heaven?
Question: Will we experience something like winter in Heaven?
Visitation Sister: Can’t imagine winter in heaven.
Sherry: I don’t know how Heaven – the place of eternal life, the place without death – can have winter, to be honest.
Priscila: No one wants to hibernate in Heaven.
Bridget: Heavenly winters? Think not; existence of Purgatory & Hell keep Heaven filled with light and goodness, only, right?
Ines: I’m with you on this, Sherry and Priscila.
Visitation Sister: Yet snowflakes are beautiful.
Ines: I mean, some winter landscapes can be beautiful, as long as the sun is shining. But always in tension with the coming of eventual spring.
Visitation Sister: No tension in heaven, I guess.
Bridget: On the other hand, if God fulfills our desires in Heaven, and someone loves to ice skate….
Ines: Bridget — right!
Stacy: Lol, Bridget, and no worries if I fall during ice skating…no ice burn.
Sherry: I was just thinking — a snowy field with glittery snow because of the sun shining on it. Well... Maybe that kind of winter could be there.
Ines: Could there be winter beauty without the air that hurts my face??
Sherry: It’s called “indoor,” Ines.
Ines: Ahah. Yes, Sherry, and I love being outdoors, hence my issues! Ha-ha.
Bridget: And snow reminds us of how the Lord has turned our scarlet sins….
Priscila: But no sleeping…too much to enjoy.
Question: St. Francis remarks that we “are not obliged never to relapse into sin, but it suffices, according to the sacred Council of Trent, to depart this life in the grace and charity of God.” Explain this.
Denise: If we die in mortal sin, we will go to hell. If we die in a state of grace, the outcome is much more favorable.
Bridget: Even though we’ve been repeat offenders, as long as we sincerely repent, it matters only whether God’s grace is in us when the “buzzer” sounds and our allotted playing time at the “game” of life is over that determines where we’ll spend eternity.
Visitation Sister: Mercy will be there too.
Stacy: St Francis de Sales, pray for us. I think to always stay alert and be ready.
Ines: I think this quote means that we must do all we can, and not live in patterns of sin, and to die in a state of grace, trusting in God’s mercy that even if there is a sin of which we have not truly repented, he will take care of us.
Stacy: We can sin but need to confess and trust in the Lord.
Denise: We repent first, then go to Confession.
Sherry: I must say – this is a new teaching to me in some way. I find that sin “forms us,” like holy work forms us too. So, I would not take it too lightly – to relapse in sin.
Denise: Did you mean sin deforms us? Did I miss something?
Sherry: And yes, Denise, “deform” is a much better word. Thanks.
Ines: There’s a difference between being humble about the fact that we are sinners, asking for mercy, and simply falling back into sin without really trying to cooperate with grace.
Visitation Sister: The closer we get to God, the more even a slight sin feels huge.
Ines: Sister Susan, yes, I see that in the lives of the saints, when some small sin to them is enormous. It’s because they realize the truly destructive power of sin. The clean glass showing the smudge idea.
Priscila: That is true. The more we love God, even small sins seem enormous.
Sherry: Good point, Ines.
Priscila: No, it’s because they love God so much.
Bridget: We can’t presume on death-bed conversions, but when someone has one, we can’t begrudge them Heaven, even if we’ve been like the elder son in the parable … As his father told him, he was with the father always and could have enjoyed him his whole life.
Too Much Responsibility?
Question: If we can only be saved by grace, why does God leave so much up to our cooperation and effort to avoid sin and remain in grace?
Denise: He gives us many graces to do so!
Bridget: Spending eternal life in Heaven is a gift, paid for by the Passion, Death & Resurrection of the Lord; although we can’t “earn” salvation, our free wills need to CHOOSE to know, love, and serve God in order to receive the gift.
Priscila: To prove our love for Him.
Ines: I think it has to do with our relationship with God. Strengthening and growing closer and more God-like with Him.
Stacy: God does not want to force us but waits for us to accept him and love him by our free will.
Ines: As we cooperate with grace, our actions are more directed by Love toward God and toward others.
Denise: If we pray and ask for help, surely we do receive it.
Visitation Sister: God wants us to be open to that grace.
Building Up Sin Antibodies
Question: As we grow in grace do we become more immune to sin?
Ines: We are strengthened to resist temptation. And are less attracted to sin.
Bridget: As long as we don’t think & act as if we’re immune.
Ines: Right, Bridget!
Stacy: I say, yes, we do not want to offend God, we grow stronger and closer, and less prone to sin.
Denise: As we grow in grace, the tempter knows and can increase. I probably am not saying this clearly, sorry.
Visitation Sister: Denise, I think temptations can increase as we grow purer.
Denise: Yes Sr. Susan. That is the battle! Thank you.
Stacy: If I feel so peaceful during Adoration, I can’t imagine heaven. Wow!
Ines: I think St. Teresa of Avila wrote that when we move past certain temptations, there will be others, more complex and insidious, that we will face. I can’t remember exactly — it’s in her Interior Castle analogy.
Sherry: That’s true, Ines.
Denise: Yes, that is good, Ines.
Stacy: I want to stay as pure as possible! LOL.
Sherry: I think – the more we are graced – the more severe we feel sin (as opposed to grace) – and sin does not look as “good” anymore either.
Priscila: I think the worst sin is glamor.
Denise: The evil one knows when we have gone to confession and are in a state of grace (was listening to this last night, not my thoughts, but it made sense). But I remind myself, God is allowing this for my purification.
Sherry: When I was smoking – I thought – I would be close to perfect. If I could just quit smoking. Then God gave me the grace to quit smoking. It did not even take 2 days until I realized. Oh my. Smoking was by far not the biggest trouble for me (interiorly).
Bridget: If I understand St Francis de Sales correctly, the “harder” we try to be good, the more we are open to the pride of wanting to be sinless & being upset when we’re not.
Sherry: Oh Bridget – I just spoke about this with my spiritual director on Thursday.
Ines: Yes, Bridget, that’s my understanding too, when we try to be good on our own power.
Sherry: Also, the desire to make ourselves holy – is actually heresy.
Priscila: But the prize of Heaven and the love of God is worth it. The greatest of these is love and love conquers all.
Ines: Sherry, the desire and belief that we can make ourselves holy is pretty much every new age and secular self-help “spiritual not religious” path that is so prevalent today.
Sherry: True Ines.
Denise: Sr. Susan, do you believe temptations increase during Holy Week?
Visitation Sister: Yes, they can.
Denise: A priest, I do not remember his name, was speaking about Holy Week. I never heard or thought of it before, but you affirm.
Lead Us Not into Temptation
Question: Are we tempted less often as we grow in holiness? Or in different ways?
Priscila: Different ways.
Ines: I think we’re tempted in different ways, Sister. Or maybe as things are healed, other areas of sinfulness or pride are revealed and also must face the temptations.
Denise: Perhaps we will be tempted in the ways we most need?
Sherry: You mean – temptations can propel us into holiness eventually?
Ines: Denise, this is interesting. God allows us to be tempted in particular ways that will lead to healing and forgiveness of a certain sinful pattern?
Stacy: I think in different ways, but stronger to face them.
Sherry: I think they will totally catch us off guard, Stacy. Something so hidden – that we might not realize it for a while.
Stacy: True, Sherry – hidden and subtle like the noonday devil, for the hermits in the desert? Tempted not to pray and just take a nap.
Sherry: Good example, Stacy. Yes – exactly like that.
Bridget: Maybe we’re tempted more often; succumb less often, but fall more prey to discouragement for sinning at all….
Sherry: I like that thought, Bridget.
Denise: You are blessed if you have a spiritual director. I’ve been quite certain not having one, I could plummet myself right into hell. But in many ways, God will provide light to me when I need it most. It could be in reading, or a person I meet.
Priscila: No. A spiritual director will not save you. Only God saves.
Bridget: Denise, was it to St Faustina at a certain point in her life that the Lord said He Himself would be her Spiritual Director?
Denise: Bridget, I do not know but maybe I will pull out Divine Mercy! Her Diary.
Ines: Denise, The Holy Spirit is your spiritual director. Every spiritual director I’ve had has said so! Keep noticing what God places in your life and pray for discernment. I think it is good to have a regular confessor, even more important than a spiritual director, at least at some points in life.
Sherry: My spiritual director is a priest, and we always end with confession.
Bridget: I “bet” if you ask the Lord, He will be your Spiritual Director, too…In fact, as I think about it, isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is for each of us, if we allow Him?
Visitation Sister: What are the dangers to watch out for? In the spiritual life.
Sherry: Yes. And it comes in so many forms. It’s not even funny.
Ines: Discouragement, I agree. Also, laziness.
Sherry: Ines, I literally wanted to write the very same answer. Word for word.
Priscila: Trying to think like God and earn Heaven.
Denise: There is much spiritual direction contained here!
Ines: Yes, Denise that’s true, too!
Bridget: Whoever introduced us to the Litany of Trust last week: TY!!! The litany contains so many things–being focused on the past; anxious about tomorrow….
Ines: The Litany of Trust is my Go-To!
Visitation Sister: Yes.
Bridget: I’ve started praying the Litany of Trust & ordered the 30-day retreat book based on it.
Ines: Oooo, I didn’t know there was a 30-day retreat book!!: I have a moratorium on book buying right now, but perhaps after Easter.
Sherry: WOW. That’s a serious Lenten practice Ines. Good for you.
Ines: It’s not for Lent, LOL, it’s for my budget!
Sherry: Bless your honesty, Ines.
Stacy: Good for your Ines, so many book offers on EWTN and Ascension Presents!
Sherry: Bridget, can you quickly post the author please?
Bridget: Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, the same Sister of Life who composed the Litany. I learned about the book from the Sisters of Life website when I looked up about the Litany after last week’s chat.
Ines: Here is the link to the book on Amazon: Jesus, I Trust in You: Personal Retreat
Priscila: We must be obedient and surrender to God in everything.
Sherry: What I love about my spiritual director is that he calls me out on things I would like to excuse. He is such a good diagnostic of the soul.
Ines: Sherry, that is awesome. St. Teresa of Avila also spoke about the dangers of a bad spiritual director – including someone who wouldn’t be honest about “calling you out” on things (whatever words she used).
Visitation Sister: Thank you all for your great sharing tonight! I will be leaving now but continue if you want.
Ines: God bless you, Sister Susan. Thank you!
Visitation Sister: Next week is Palm Sunday already. Have a blessed week!
Denise: G’night, Sr. Susan. Thank you!
Sherry: Have a blessed week, Sister Susan.
Priscila: Everyone have a good week.
Stacy: Good night, all, God bless! What great information and insights!
If you enjoyed this chat, why not join us at our Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and then gather great insights and sharing!