“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.

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Off the Rails!

03/06/2016

Jesus teaches the parable of the prodigal son again at the Sunday Mass, our second look at this Gospel (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32) during Lent 2016.

Let’s look at it from the son’s perspective before he gets back to his dad.

First, he tells his dad “I don’t want to wait for you to die. Gimme my share of your money now.”

Then, he pisses it all away.

Then, he comes to his senses. He realizes that his father’s servants have it better than he does, slaving away, slopping pigs. He decides that he needs to confess his sins.

Here’s today’s grotesque video look at the message:

Ever come to your senses after going off the rails when burying your heavenly Father? How does it feel, going into and coming out of that confessional?

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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.


The only thing you can control

02/16/2016

What is the one thing over which you have complete control?

There is only one thing.

You can’t control what others think. You can’t control what others do. You can’t control how others treat you. You can’t control what others say. You can’t control what happens to you. You can’t even control your thoughts!

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:7-15), Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray and then has instructions for them on forgiveness.

Who do you need to forgive?

Here are my thoughts on the Gospel and on control.

And maybe a word or two about eating a good breakfast.

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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.


The “Big Bang” and the Vast Universe

10/27/2015

Scientists and philosophers throughout the ages of recorded human history have debated the questions:

  • “How did the universe come to be formed?”
  • “Was there a beginning?”
  • “Will there be an end?”
  • “Is the universe spherical or flat?”
  • “Was The Big Bang really a BANG?”
  • “Is The Big Bang Theory at odds with Creationism?”

No way am I going to get into a discussion about all of that today, but maybe some day. Today, let’s consider the formation of the Universe and the Kingdom of God. And let’s stick with the basic essentials.

NASA has their own, scientifically dense, explanation of The Big Bang.

A site called (what else?) Big Bang Theory has a more layman-friendly discussion. They even pose the question about the existence of God and how that theological discussion integrates into the purely scientific theory.

The scientific theory rattles the mind. It can be confusing. It tends to overwhelm us in its complexity. Or its implications.

But does it have to?

Must we be confused and overwhelmed by the concepts?

Let’s consider one fact, mind-blowing though it is, about the universe.

We’re told the universe sprang into existence at a single moment in time. We’re told that at the beginning, the matter (particles, etc.) that make up everything we know was “infinitesimally small” and “infinitely hot.”

We’re told that the universe expanded and cooled to what we know today and that it is currently expanding every second with no signs of that expansion slowing.

Digest that for a moment.

The universe sprang forth from something very, very small.

–   And it is expanding.   –

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Did Jesus tell us this?

Today’s Gospel (Luke 13:18-21) gives us a clue.

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

Pretty cool, huh?


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 daily.

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


Homosexuality, Divorce, Mortal Sin and Holy Communion

10/17/2015

Archbishop Blaise Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago recently suggested that conscience decides who can receive Holy Communion. Speaking specifically about divorced and civilly remarried Roman Catholics, Archbishop Cupich said they must “come to a decision in good conscience” and that the job of the Church is is to “help them move forward and to respect that.”

Quoting from the same article in the National Catholic Register referenced above:

Asked if he would likewise accompany homosexual couples into receiving the sacraments according to their conscience, Archbishop Cupich replied: “Gay people are human beings, too, they have a conscience and my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church.”

But he added that “at the same time,” his role as a pastor is to help them “through a period of discernment, to understand what God is calling them to at that point, so it’s for everybody.”

His comments have touched off a firestorm among Roman Catholics. In the comments on this article, one reader suggested that this is heresy. Most of the comments I read were extremely critical of the Archbishop.

I’m not sure how a priest or bishop — or even Pope Francis — is supposed to police this. Their role is not to play God. Each of us, no matter our role in the church, ordained or laity, is to follow the teachings of the Church.

But we’re not supposed to judge each other.

Do we have a responsibility to point out faults or errors in thinking? Yes. But we’ve got to be careful that we don’t play God.

Our role is to exercise mercy.

I voiced my own opinion in the comments section of the National Catholic Register article.

May I take a slightly contrarian view of Archbishop Cupich’s comments? Is he welcoming these groups into full communion? Or is he suggesting that he will not refuse them Holy Communion if they come to the front of church to receive it?

The reception of Holy Communion does not relieve me of my responsibility for my actions. As a sinner who has ignorantly gone to Holy Communion while in mortal sin, thinking that this somehow brought me into grace with God the Father, I now understand that reception of Holy Communion at that time in my life only magnified my state of sinfulness and grievously profaned the Eucharist.

Receiving Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin only enhances my immorality. Let’s face it, there’s no litmus test for any of us on our way to the altar to receive our Lord and Savior. Whether or not we are aware of the grave consequences of our actions, our reception of the Eucharist only magnifies our present state in the eyes of the Father.

Those of you who know me or put up with my (… shall we say…) musings on Facebook know that I have my differences of opinion with some of the things Pope Francis has had to say when he comments on most things political. And you also know that I am an apologist for Catholicism and faithfully believe in the infallibility of the Holy Catholic Church.

This is not the same.

Comments?

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Nepal, Baltimore, Man’s Insignificance, and the Good Shepherd

04/28/2015

Nepal.

Baltimore.

Deadly tornadoes in Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois and Sand Spring, Oklahoma.

Christians beheaded. Jews targeted.

Truth and polite honesty assailed as hate.

Loved ones taking ill. Beloved friends and family suddenly ripped from our lives.IMAG0345

Even pets. How many of us have lost a beloved furry baby… dogs, cats, horses, livestock?

And this list merely scratches the surface.

This is how the first four months of 2015 begins…

… can you believe we are already four months into 2015? Twenty fifteen?? …

… this is how it is every day in our fallen world.

It’s no different today than it was two thousand years ago.

IMAG0202 NaturalIMAG0177 disasters continue to rip apart our tranquility. Such is the world we live in. Hateful human beings destroy without regard for others. Sometimes without regard for themselves.

Such is the world we live in.IMAG0206

Such is the world we have always lived in.

And nature relentlessly takes its course. None of us live forever, no matter how hard we try to prolong our existence, in spite of the zealous attempts of the safety nazis (sorry) to shield us from every risk. Our sweet pets are taken from us before we want to let go.

The clock ticks. Our mortal bodies decay.

This is our existence.

Why?

What good is it?

My sister, Stephanie, sent me a 3 minute, 29 second video about how insignificant our world is in relation to the vastness of the universe. Part of the title suggests that the video will make you question your entire existence.

I dunno… for me, it affirms and strengthens my faith.

Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the universe. Consider, as the video demonstrates, how small is our planet compared to the size of the other planets that orbit our sun, how small Earth is in relation to our sun, how small our sun is in relation to other stars, how vast our galaxy in relation to our solar system, how small our galaxy is in relation to other galaxies.

How enormous is the universe in which we live?

Yet the God of that Universe, His creation, begot His Son through a mere mortal human being, the Virgin Mary, the lifespan of His existence less than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe.

To save us.

Why?

Who knows?

But He did! And for more than 2,000 years — again, no more than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe — Jesus Christ has been attracting believers who know that He showed up here.

For us.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe, too. I ponder the likelihood of the existence of life elsewhere.

And I know that if life exists on another planet elsewhere in God’s ever-expanding Universe, He has appeared there in the form of His own image, to save them as well.

How can I make such a bold statement?

Because the God of the Universe is Love. Because the God of the Universe is Mercy. Because the God of the Universe is Truth.

By definition.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe. I compare the safety of our atmosphere-controlled world to that of a mother’s womb. Temperature regulated. Just perfect for the lifespan of our time there… or here. Not without dangers. Not without natural disasters.

But meant to surround us in a cocoon of protection and relative safety.

Until it’s time to move on.

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” – John 10:22-30

The God of the Universe sent His only begotten Son to be our Good Shepherd. To get us from here to there.Kit Kat

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, 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.

 

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