Disciples Fast and Go To Confession
I’ve been a Catholic my whole lifelong. Confession is not one of our favorite sacraments. I think many Catholics see going to Confession as something tantamount to having our teeth pulled out without anesthesia.
The above being said – if we do not go to confession our life does not get better. It MIGHT not get worse, but it will not get better. Why? I call it the law of degrading. Human nature, since the Original Sin, has been inclined not to grace but to the ground. Sure – we are hard wired for God, but we are pulled to the ground … meaning to the satisfaction of our base desires or senses. Don’t agree? Then give in to your fatigue and stay in bed way past the alarm clock or do not brush your teeth or shower or shave. Simple examples of how we “degrade” without constant (daily) attention.
We need – whether we like it or not – the sacrament of Penance. Jesus knew that we would need it even after Baptism. And he was oh so right! We all know we easily succumb to our wounded nature. When this happens, we can ignore it, let it go or deal with it. The best way to deal with it is to repent of our faults or sins and go to confession (and it some cases the individual might even need some counselling).
To make a good confession I recommend this list from Saint Josemaria Escriva. He said that we need to make a good examination of conscience before going to Confession. When making the Confession the following way is very helpful:
Concise: Confession need to be with few words. We use the words that are needed to say humbly what we have done or have failed to do
Concrete: Confession needs to avoid digression and be without generalities. We need to state specifically what we have done – don’t circle around or avoid the issue. Nail it down (so to speak). The penitent will suitably indicate his/her situation (married, single, priest), and also the time that has elapsed since his/her last Confession.
Clear: Confession is where we need to make ourselves understood, declaring the precise nature of the fault, manifesting our weaknesses with necessary delicacy if required.
Complete: Confession required that it be Integral, without leaving anything out through a false sense of shame so as not to appear bad in the confessor’s eyes. To intentionally withhold a mortal sin in confession would be make it invalid and then we have committed the mortal sin of sacrilege.
Basically – in one sentence … be totally honest!
Confession is not our favorite sacrament, but it is – in my estimation – the most valuable. If we go to confession regularly, we will (negatively speaking) avoid getting too far away from Jesus and (positively speaking) we will grow in grace, be strengthened in virtue and renewed in our resolve to follow Jesus Christ.
Lent is a good time to receive the sacrament of Penance and then receive it many times throughout your life.
How to Keep Going – The Morning Offering
As mentioned last week my approach about how to “keep going” is not bound by or to COVID19. It is for always. As St John of Arc said a long time ago: I was born for this time; I am not afraid; God is with me.
The fist part of our needed plan to keep going is the way we start the day. We all know the saying “the wong side of the bed.” You and I want to get out of the bed “on the right side” which is not the right or left but with a proper attitude. This is where I begin because it is where the day begins.
Getting up on the “right side of the bed” beings with three steps:
Getting up immediately – this is the “Heroic Minute” of the day. Why immediately? It is the first victory of the day and it sets the pace. For some people this is easy while for others it is like climbing Mount Everest. Suffice it to say that we need to overcome ourselves in the first moments when the alarm goes off or you know it is time to get up.
The second thing to do is make the Morning Offering. If you can get on your knees and thank God for waking up and the day ahead. Do this whether you feel great or not so great. This doesn’t need to be very long. It can be a spontaneous prayer or one that is a set vocal prayer. Here is an example:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in thanksgiving for your favors, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.
Whatever form this offering takes the important thing is to actually pray it. It is like setting the trajectory of your day.
Saint John Mary Vianney taught: “All that we do without offering it to God is wasted.”
Finally – to highlight the importance of staring the day in this way I will give a teaching from no less than the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior’s grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father.
The third thing I would recommend to “keep going” is to Make Your Bed. Ya – make your bed. You might think I’m being too picky or too chore oriented or “whatever is negative” but there it is a good way to start your day. If you want to watch a very good talk on “Making Your Bed” I encourage you to watch this YouTube Video.
So, whether we are in the Pandemic or not it is important to know that you can begin you day in such a way that it keeps you going and will set your day in a trajectory towards God. It doesn’t mean that everything will go great or even well but it does mean that you will have a solid foundation upon which you can face whatever comes your way. You and I are not alone so we need to start the day in this knowledge and recall it throughout the day. How we do that will be the subject of future writing.
To Recap – 3 things: HM, MO and MB and off you go. Do it every day no matter what.