The latest news: The Censor Librorum (the priest reviewing my book for the bishop) has recommended the bishop grant my work a nihil obstat and his imprimatur! I’m just waiting for the official letter.
All of you have a copy of the book that is in some stage of completion. There have been six printings so far and I have made improvements with each. Each iteration seemed worth sharing at the time—and I did—so if you received an earlier copy, it has been updated since. When I receive the bishop’s imprimatur, I will print the seventh and final copy with updates from the review.
Why am I reaching out now? The bishop’s office had a question on two of my reflections based on a misunderstanding of my intent. If they misunderstood… there’s a good chance others did too. I would like to clear up any misunderstanding.
On page 117, you may find the following reflection (depending on the printing you received):
After leaving the tomb, Your first visits were to an imperfect woman and an Apostle who denied You. Your mercy seeks us in our brokenness. For those I have hurt, help me seek reconciliation and healing.
The question I received was whether referring to Mary Magdalene as an “imperfect woman” was suggesting she was once a prostitute. The Church does not teach this. No. That was not my intent.
The mention of the “imperfect woman” isn’t meant to allude to anything in particular about the woman but my thought at the time was that our Lord didn’t immediately go see His mother. There was a “perfect woman” available but He didn’t go to her. He didn’t go first to the most holy among us. He reached out to sinners first. Whether Mary Magdalene has a past as a prostitute or not wasn’t my concern… just that she wasn’t His mother and, therefore, a fellow sinner. However, I can see where the confusion causes the concern so I have amended that reflection to be clearer in my intent.
After leaving the tomb, You didn’t seek out Your mother, the most holy among us. You came first to sinners. Your mercy seeks us in our brokenness. For those I have hurt, help me seek reconciliation and healing.
On page 141 of the latest version, I referenced two “Christ-killer” Apostles and reflected on despair vs salvation. It was thought that I was referring to Judas and Peter. Since Peter didn’t physically harm our Lord, that wasn’t my intent.
I’m not referring to Peter and Judas and certainly don’t mean to suggest culpability of the Jews as a people (referenced in the letter to me). The rest of the manuscript should make it clear I don’t see things that way. Our Lord died because I am a sinner. I don’t pin his suffering on anyone but me. This reflection is on how powerful a story it would have been had Judas repented and returned to our Lord. Our Lord knew Judas would despair of his salvation and take his life so it was not to be.
However, maybe our Lord still wanted to tell that redemption story.
We then hear the story of Saul who persecuted the early Christians… the body of Christ… the Church. St Stephen and other martyrs were killed for following Christ. Saul is complicit in their murders. When called, our Lord asks Saul why he persecutes Him. Saul’s redemption and renaming as Paul is a powerful story of redemption. Paul’s judgement at the hands of the other Apostles is a lesson in not judging who Christ has ordained. There’s an old saying… “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future” — Oscar Wilde. We are meant to judge the things of this world. What we can’t judge is the condition of someone else’s soul simply because they are a sinner… we are all sinners… we aren’t even good judges of ourselves. We simply reflect on our failings, seek our Lord in reconciliation, take up our crosses, and try again.
To avoid confusion, I rewrote the reflection the same way I explain it:
Judas walked with Christ and betrayed Him. Paul was called out from his persecution of the Church. The past and future are both God’s domain. I am not the one to judge myself nor anyone else.
I continue to receive encouraging and uplifting feedback from those who have spent time with the book in prayerful contemplation. It still makes a difference in my own meditations. When the final copy is available, I will let you know.
May God bless you.