“I Forgive You”

03/15/2016

Tonight is our Parish Reconciliation Service. I guess it’s good to get together as a community to pray for forgiveness of our sins. But I’ve gotta tell you… there’s nothing better than what follows the communal service.

As painful as it is to personally confess your sins to a priest — either face to face or behind a screen in a darkened confessional — with words that pour out of your own mouth, admitting your failings and shortcomings, acknowledging them out loud (well… okay, in a whispered hush, but nonetheless audible)…

the joy that washes over you when you realize that your sins are wiped away, your soul is clean, when Jesus says

“I forgive you…”

… that joy is truly indescribable.

Recognize confession for what it is. It’s not a psychoanalysis session. It’s not supposed to be a litany of your shortcomings, said for the purpose of making you feel bad or horrible or evil. It’s not a public flogging.

Confession, or penance, or reconciliation — whatever you want to call it — is an chance to say

“I’ve failed. And I’m sorry.”

It’s an opportunity to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you. It’s a one-on-one encounter with Jesus, through His Earthly representative, much the same as Holy Communion is a one-on-one encounter with Him.

Here’s what Pope Paul VI in 1968 said about confession.

“Let us examine the way in which we confess our sins, not in order to be over scrupulous in analyzing our faults, but in order to recognize the greatness of man on his knees before God.

“… In this way, God’s mercy… will… blow over us like a beneficial breeze, alleviating our sorrows.” (Ash Wednesday message, 1968)

God’s mercy!

When you think about the Creator of the Universe living just like you live, feeling the same human emotions, the same impulses, the same thoughts, what thoughts go through your head?

Can you contemplate it? Do you?

Why don’t you?

Go ahead.

If the Creator of the Universe, if the God who knew you before you were conceived, knows how easy it is to sin, don’t you think He can show you mercy? Don’t you think He can forgive you?

No matter what?

Hear what I have to say about the most joyous confession I ever experienced:

I hadn’t been to confession in years. I was harboring an “unforgivable sin.”

I couldn’t bring myself to face Christ — in the person of the priest. I was ashamed. I knew I could never get the words out of my mouth.

It was a period of great introspection. I searched my soul for answers that I couldn’t find. I was sad. I knew God loved me. I knew God forgave me.

But I also knew He expected me to use the Sacrament of Confession, too. To humbly and contritely acknowledge my failing.

I guess most importantly, I knew in my heart of hearts that not confessing my sins was ultimately separating me from God.

And it was my choice.

God gives us the tools and the resources. He gives us the freedom to make choices. He gives us the free will to do what’s right or wrong.

And He knows we will screw up.

We’re human. Just as He was in the person of Jesus. Just as He still is in the person of Jesus Christ present in every tabernacle in every sort of Catholic Church… in every church that carries on the ancient tradition of offertory and consecration and distribution of Holy Eucharist.

Only now His body is glorified. It’s been cleansed of its humanness.

But He knows our human shortcomings. He experienced them, too. Without sinning.

We sin. We are born with original sin. We’re not born with a divine nature. We’re born in the divine image, but we’re born with the capacity to sin.

I reflect on these things now. They were not part of my consciousness when I made this confession. At the time, my anxiety level overwhelmed me. Often.

It was at a Parish Reconciliation Service. I can’t recall whether it was Advent or Lent. All I know is I finally made it to one.

Then came time for individual confessions for those who wished to make one.

I wasn’t going to do it. I was afraid. Thanks to God, I overcame my fear and stepped into a line.

When it was my turn, I poured my heart out to the priest, my confessor. I barely made eye contact.

I finished and waited for my penance. Father absolved me of my sins. I looked at him. His eyes pierced my soul. He smiled and said something. I don’t remember what.

But I knew I was forgiven. The weight of a thousand chains was gone!

It was almost like his eyes said “You’re done! You’re free! Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? I’m so happy to forgive you. I’ve been waiting for you so long. And now, it’s over. You did it. Thank you.”

Go to confession.

Remember what Pope Paul VI said. Don’t be OCD about categorizing and listing your sins. Instead, consider how you approach your sins, how you approach Jesus through the priest, and how remorseful you are.

Don’t get me wrong. Don’t gloss over an examination of conscience! Be thorough! Just make sure you examine patterns. Your major failings. Why you do what you do. How you can avoid repeating the patterns and failings.

You’re going to sin again.

We all do.

Don’t beat yourself up. Resolve to persevere.

None of us are perfect until our heavenly Father perfects us. In heaven.

 

The Act of Contrition I’ve said since I made my First Confession and First Holy Communion in 1965:

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. And I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment. But most of all, because they have offended Thee, my God, who art so good and so deserving of all my love, I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


How Can We Have Mercy on Mass Murderers?

09/11/2015

September 11.

A day of reflection for millions of Americans since the dark events of this day in 2001. Thousands of Americans were murdered by a handful of men.

A good day to reflect on something so incredibly more important and powerful than that, however, as odd as that may seem.

Humankind has been murdering and exterminating humankind for centuries. The Romans enjoyed serving Christians for lunch to wild animals. The Nazis exterminated millions of Jews. The Communist Soviet Union exterminated millions of its own citizens.

I could continue, citing other examples, but that’s not the point.

And now Planned Parenthood, exposed not only as an abortion mill, but as a cold, calculating trafficker of “fetal tissue.” We all know what that really means.

But let’s not debate the right or the wrong of it.

I’m serious.

That’s not what this post is about.

Death is death. Death is final.

Yes, tortuous death is not the same as dying peacefully in the presence of loving family and friends in the comfort of one’s bed. Or falling asleep, only to die in one’s sleep, never having a chance to say goodbye or wrap up those nasty loose ends.

Death is still death.

And what happens after death?

You know that I’m a faithful Catholic. I believe that we encounter our Creator. We encounter God.

And our eternal fate is presented to us.

Did we persevere to the end? Did we acknowledge our sinfulness and acknowledge Jesus as our Savior?

We can get into specifics and semantics about needing to be saved… about needing or not needing works to save us…

… but not here.

That’s not the point of this post.

What happens after death?

What happens to the murdered Syrian Christian sacrificed at the hands of a brutal member if ISIS?

What happens to the people crushed under the weight of the collapsing World Trade Center towers?

What happens to the suicide murderers?

The same darn thing.

We all encounter God. And we account for our lives.

We make choices while we live.

We also have a choice when we die.

Will we acknowledge that Jesus Christ came to save us and will we accept His saving help?

Will we turn our backs on the mercy of God and not accept His control over our eternity?

Do you even believe it?

You also know that I am an avid proponent of the devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Jesus appeared to St. Faustina. It’s been documented. Read about it here.

Jesus gave the young nun specific instructions on living a life of mercy.

“I demand20140827_152814 from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it. 

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer.

“In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 742).

 

Wow….

No excuses.

I’m not a big fan of many politicians, pop culture icons, and others that I think cause great distress for our country. Doesn’t matter. I owe them mercy.

“My love and mercy knows no bounds.” (Diary, 718)

How can I express love for those who perpetrated 9/11? I can’t. Doesn’t matter. I owe them mercy.

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.” (Diary, 723)

How can we have mercy on mass murderers?

It’s easy.

“Beg for mercy for the whole world.” (Diary, 570)

Oh… it may not be easy. But if we focus our hearts on Jesus, He will make it easy to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“Today Jesus said to me…

‘Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.

‘This is the prayer:  O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’ (Diary, 186, 187)

I hope you will tell me how you feel about this subject. Can you have mercy on those who hate you? On those who annoy you? On someone who tortured someone you love?

Can I help you?

Ask me.

 


Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for still not posting a meditation daily.

This is where Kit Kat is buried. R.I.P. little buddy.


What If You’re Divorced?

08/14/2015

I am divorced. And in the deep recesses of my being, I still allow that to define me.

Today’s Gospel is a difficult one for me.

a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife

Why did it happen?

The reasons are layered and complex. I was (and probably still am) blessed with a certain level of naivete. Socially, I’m clumsy. If I don’t come across that way, it’s not because I don’t feel that way.

Never, ever, in a thousand years… in a million years… did I ever even suspect that Sue and I would become a statistic.

and the two shall become one flesh

That’s not an excuse. I do not excuse myself.

Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.

Okay… so what made me think that it was permissible to separate what God joined together?

I never did. I don’t think it is permissible for any of us.

Just like I don’t think it’s permissible to live contrary to any of God’s laws.

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”  They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” – Matthew 9:3-12

No other gods. No idols. Keep the sabbath. Honor Mom and Dad. Don’t kill. No adultery. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t covet. Don’t covet (yes, apparently we need more than one reminder of that one).

So… how good are you at adhering to those?

I suck at it. Pardon the vernacular.

How do we resolve what Jesus told the Pharisees?

I don’t know.

I know what the Catholic Church teaches. Sort of. I know they permitted me and Kathy to both seek (and have granted) a formal annulment of our previous marriages, thus giving us permission to marry each other — in a second sacramental union (for me) — and still participate in the sacramental life… receiving Holy Communion, having our sins forgiven in Confession.

Have I resolved all this in my own mind?

No.

That is clearly because I am an imperfect, flawed human being.

My ways are not His ways.

Okay, this is supposed to be a quick meditation. Not a sermon. Not a book. So…..

Has anything helped me overcome my guilt?

A handful of years ago (was it five, six, more?), I discovered the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. If you are familiar with me and this blog, you know that.

Jesus was born into this hellhole to save us from ourselves.

We’re the ones who have taken His Father’s glorious creation and created a cesspool, made a mess of just about whatever we’ve laid our hands on.

We are imperfect human beings.

We will sin. We will be immoral. We will offend others and thus offend God.

We will.

Today.

Reflect on that before you nod off tonight. And ask forgiveness.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm:

His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 136 (all verses)

The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared to human beings. The Lord, Jesus Christ, has made Himself known and spoken clearly to human beings.

Mary gave us the Holy Rosary.

Jesus gave us the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

He promised that even the most hardened sinner, if they will say the Chaplet even once, will be granted His Divine Mercy.

It’s stuff like that, folks, that engages my consciousness, that gives me hope, that permits me to forgive myself, that keeps me strong.

I don’t know if my words do that for you. But I want them to.

If you’re struggling with something, I don’t have all the answers. But I do have empathy. I’m capable of praying for you (or with you). And I believe with every ounce of life that my/our prayers are heard and answered.

Don’t forget to listen. Never forget to listen. The answers are there. We also suck at listening.

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Today is also the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

You did not choose me, but I chose you… John 15:16a

St. Maximilian had a lifelong devotion to Mary. He wanted to start a radio station. Instead, he was captured by Nazis and died in a concentration camp.

He chose one thing. The Lord chose another.

Decades later, Mother Angelica spearheaded EWTN. How much more powerful and meaningful is the legacy of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe because of his experience and suffering at the hands of enemies of God than if he got what he chose?

I pick up my pen and tap on my computer to get these words out. Yes, I choose to write. I choose to press “Publish.” I can’t help but feel in some way the only reason I’m doing this is because He chose me. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just supposed to get you to think.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for still not posting a meditation daily.

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