Confession… Necessary?

 

Rembrandt van Rijn, “The return of the prodigal son”; c.1662
 

OF course, one can ask God directly to forgive one’s venial sins, and He will (provided of course, we forgive others. Jesus was clear on this.) We can immediately, on the spot as it were, stop the bleeding from the wound of our transgression.

But this is where the Sacrament of Confession is so necessary.  For the wound, though not bleeding, may still be infected with “self”. Confession draws the puss of pride to the surface where Christ, in the person of the priest (John 20:23), wipes it away and applies the healing balm of the Father through the words, “…may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins….” Unseen graces bathe the injury as—with the Sign of the Cross—the priest applies the dressing of God’s mercy.

When you go to a medical doctor for a bad cut, does he only stop the bleeding, or does he not suture, cleanse, and dress your wound? Christ, the Great Physician, knew we would need that, and more attention to our spiritual wounds.

Thus, this Sacrament was his antidote to our sin.

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession. —St. Augustine, Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1863

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1458

 

 

Never Too Late


St. Teresa of Avila


A letter to a friend considering the consecrated life…

DEAR SISTER,

I can understand that feeling of having thrown away one’s life… of having never been what one should have been… or thought one should be.

And yet, how are we to know that this isn’t within God’s plan? That He has permitted our lives to go the course they have so as to give Him much more glory in the end?

How wonderful is it that a woman your age, who normally would be seeking the good life, the baby boomer pleasures, the Oprah dream… is giving up her life to seek God alone. Whew. What a testimony. And it could only have its fullest effect coming now, at the stage you’re at. 

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I BELIEVE it was Johann Strauss, who in his time said

The spiritual climate of a society can be judged by its music.

That would also be true of what lines the shelves of video stores. 

God's Chisel

TODAY, our family stood on God’s chisel.

The nine of us were taken on top of Athabasca Glacier in Canada. It was surreal as we stood on ice as deep as the Eiffel tower is high. I say "chisel", because apparently glaciers are what carved earth’s landscapes as we know it.

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AS I face my own weakness head on tonight, as all sense of God fades away, as darkness collapses onto my mind, and peace evades my heart…. there is only one thing left to do: cry out, like the beggar,

Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! (Luke 18:38)

Was it not in the desert that the Israelites were tested? Was not Abraham’s faith purified when he raised the dagger over his son, Isaac? And did not Christ himself experience the crucifixion of obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Lord Jesus… I need you. Have mercy on me.

HEAVEN hangs in suspense, awaiting earth’s decision:

I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you... (Deut 30:19-20)

THE world cannot continue on this path of destroying human embryos for stem cell research.

As a pencil falling from a table obeys the law of gravity, so too, there is a spiritual law: "what you sow, you will reap." Through prayer, fasting, and the intervention of the Mother of God, this terrible harvest has been delayed.

But oh, how many governments and scientific bodies seem intent on hastening the day. They feel the sacrifice of life now, will possess health and wellbeing for themselves in the future. It is madness. They are taking from another–in blood–so as to give to themselves.

In Scripture, King Ahab and his wife killed Naboth so as to take possession of his vineyard. But when the Lord saw this he said,

After murdering, do you also take possession? For this, the Lord says: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too. (1 Kgs 21)

Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily to open the Synod of Bishops in Rome last year said,

    …the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general …the Lord is also crying out to our ears the words that in the Book of Revelation he addresses to the Church of Ephesus: “If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (2: 5). Light can also be taken away from us and we do well to let this warning ring out with its full seriousness in our hearts…

But God does not want to treat us according to our sins. He who loved us unto death wishes, rather, that we would respond to this warning as did King Ahab:

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh... Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time..."

The Glue

FORGIVENESS is the glue that holds a family together. But humility determines how good the glue is.

BE radical. Not fanatical.

Fanatics are stuck on themselves. The radical Christian is stuck on giving to others, forgiving those who are fanatical toward him, even to the point of shedding blood.

Mother Theresa

LISTEN carefully,

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pt 1:13)

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. (Col 3:2)

These sacred words of Holy Scripture underscore a burning word in my heart these days:

    YOU MUST BE RADICAL!

Peter tells us to set our hopes “completely” on the grace to be brought us. Completely! The whole direction of our every thought, word, and action should be toward Christ, each moment–not just for 58 minutes every Sunday. Oh, how deceived many are who think that their presence in the pew and a buck in the basket are a ticket to Heaven! How deceived we in the affluent West have become! Continue reading