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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grace and Ted Kennedy

Grace. Grace. God's Grace.

I am thankful for God's grace.

I connect with God through asking forgiveness for my sins and receiving God's pardon. His forgiveness is unconditional and immediate.

I don't have to earn it. It is because of the sacrifice that Jesus made as he died on the cross that day, taking upon Himself my sins, my mistakes and failures as well as yours.

Nothing more. Nothing less. I can't add to or take away from God's grace.

It is not predicated on who I am or who my parents are or whether I am a good looking guy or not. It's not based on what I have or haven't done in life. It's all based on what Jesus did. It's only through Jesus that I can have access to God the father.

John writes in the Bible, "For God so loved you and I that he sent, gave, his one and only son, that whoever believes in him (Jesus) will have eternal life."

He writes later on, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us for our sins and cleanse and purify us from all of our mistakes."

There has been a lot made of the letter that the late Senator Edward M Kennedy wrote to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. In the graveside interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, retired Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick used the brief rite as an opportunity to read much of the contents of the letter:

"Most Holy Father, I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am deeply grateful to him.

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God’s blessings as you lead our Church and inspire our world during these challenging times.

I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and, although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life.

I have been blessed to be a part of a wonderful family, and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained, nurtured and provided solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.

I want you to know, Your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.

I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health care field and will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings. I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and our Church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

I'm not writing to bang on the writings of a dying man. Nor am I wanting to take on the theology of the Catholic Church. But I am saying that, again, my relationship with the Father, with Jesus Christ His Son, and with the Holy Spirit is based on the cross. I ask for forgiveness, acknowledge my sins, God forgives. I experience eternal life.

Would you like to do that today?

I encourage you to pray this prayer:

"I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust You a Savior and follow You as Lord. Amen."

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