“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.


Confession and the Future

03/13/2016

The adulterous woman gets a pardon. Jesus points her to the future and doesn’t want her to dwell in the past. He also demands deeds of mercy from her accusers. Do you confess your sins? Do it! There is an incredible wave of freedom that washes over you. Try it. You’ll like it.

I’m not kidding. And I don’t say it lightly.

 

 

Jesus promised Saint Faustina that even the greatest sinner had hope of redemption if they would only confess their sins and ask the Lord for mercy.

Just ask.

 

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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.


Forgive and DON’T Forget!

03/01/2016

Revenge is so, so sweet, isn’t it?

If you prefer to watch and listen to this message, here’s a link:

I remember… Freshman year in college, Steve gave Jane and Jeannette access to our room in Gardner Hall. Room 307. The girls sewed the fly on our underwear shut and sprinkled crackers in our dresser drawers.

It took a little sleuthing to figure it all out, who did the deed, how they got in our room, but Bruce and I got to the bottom of it.

And… we got our revenge all right!

We stole a couple of whole pies from Baxter Hall (the cafeteria) and decorated Steve’s car.

Ohhhhh…. we had the last laugh, didn’t we?

Oh, sure, it was a tame prank on both sides. No big deal. No harm done. Just a little college prank.

Only, to do it, we had to steal. And then we had to inflict damage on someone’s property.

It was a silly prank. It was a silly revenge. Nobody got hurt. We exchanged many laughs about it over the years.

Thank God.

Often, revenge is about a lot more serious matters. I’ve been party to or had knowledge about some of those, too.

Year of Mercy

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35), Peter asks Jesus if we have to forgive someone seven times. What does Jesus say about that?

We have to forgive someone seventy-seven times!

That’s a lot of forgiving.

But that’s what we’re called to do.

It ain’t easy!

After telling Peter to forgive his brother 77 times, he tells the parable of the king who forgave the enormous debt of one of his officials.

The official begged for mercy. The king is moved with compassion and forgives the debt.

But not soon after, the king learns that the same official — after the king had shown him great mercy — confronts a servant who owed him a small amount, chokes the guy, demands his money, and has him thrown in prison.

What do you think the king does?

He punishes the official. And now he says “pay me what you owe me.”

Jesus says that His Heavenly Father will do the same to us unless we forgive from the heart.

Forgive and Don’t Forget!

Heard a little of Father Paul Scalia’s homily from the funeral of his father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Father Paul reminded us that his dad still required our prayers. He wasn’t a saint yet! A bleak reminder that we’re all subject to Purgatory, which the Catholic Church teaches as referenced in the Book of Revelation.

If someone wrongs us, can’t we offer up our forgiveness and the pain it caused us as intercession for the souls in Purgatory? How about offering it up for the deceased members of our family? How about offering it up for the person who wronged us?

If we canonize our deceased relatives too soon, we forfeit an opportunity to pray for forgiveness of their sins. We fail to show them mercy.

It’s all a mystery. But so is Original Sin. It’s the imperfection of our human body, our human mind, our imperfect soul. We need to be perfected.

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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.

 


If Your Brother Was Going to Kill You…

02/28/2016

My take on the brothers treating Joseph with such hatred and the tenant farmers who killed even the vineyard owner’s son. How much mercy could I muster?

Here’s the video:

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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.


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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A Love Story Starring Doug and Amy Kwiecinski

05/23/2015

Doug and Amy asked me to read at their wedding. Today’s the day. May 23, 2015, 5:00 pm, Central Daylight Time.

They also asked me to say a few words after the reading. This is what I will say to them in just a few minutes.

Doug and Amy engaged 1459337_10153535299400080_1130631129_n

When you asked me to read and gave me a selection of readings to choose from, and then asked if I would say few syllables after the reading, I read over each one, I jotted a few notes, and when I read this one, the letter to the Corinthians, I just started writing — and writing and writing and writing! — I just knew this was the right reading for today. For you. For both of you.

Doug and Amy 941299_10153453624890080_2006328927_n

Love is not easy. Love ain’t just flowers and chocolate and jewelry and other nice “things.”

Those are nice. They’re not bad. They help express love. They’re not love.

Love is not about me.

It’s not about you…

Take a look at the person next to you. At the people around you. It’s about them. Love is about them.

Doug, Amy… take a look at the person next to you. It’s about them.

Doug and Amy in the car 1425721_10153453625515080_1701486744_n

Love never fails.  –  First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 13:8 (beginning)

We fail. It’s easy to fail! And it’s easier to not admit to failure.

Pompous. Inflated. Rude. Quick-tempered. Brood over injury.

Yikes. [shudder]

Guilty!

Sorry, honey. Thanks for loving me.

Do not ever stop praying.

Do not ever stop learning.

Do not ever think you have it all figured out.

Love is work.

But love is the reason for all of this.

Love is the reason for everything.

Love is the reason for new life. Love is the reason for all life.

Love sustains us in death. And when we mourn the death of a loved one.

Love is the reason for everything in between.

Love is hard.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child…  –  First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 13:11a

Don’t think that just because you’re an adult… and you think you reason as an adult, it gets any easier.

You will disagree.

You might argue.

You will be tested.

And… you’re human! So sometimes you will fail!

Pick yourselves up. Dust yourselves off. Admit your mistakes. Ask God for help. Pray to Him for forgiveness.

Never forget His Divine Mercy. Never hesitate to ask for His Divine Mercy!

Love never fails.

Father Leo Clifford was a Franciscan Friar. He passed away in 2012. In the early 2000s, he recorded five seasons of Reflections, brief… 6, 7, 8 minute thoughts… homilies. He had a melodious Irish accent and an almost lyrical manner of speaking. He touches your heart. Grabs your emotions. In one of his Reflections, Philosophy of Life, Father Clifford says:

By definition, you cannot keep love. Love must be given away. You cannot buy love. You cannot barter it. You cannot sell it. You cannot store it. You can only give it away.

A song is not a song until it is sung. A bell is not a bell until it is rung. And love is not love until it is given away…

Isn’t that beautiful?

Sounded so poetic, I wondered if those were his words or a quote. So I did a little research.

My best guess is he borrowed it. Paraphrased the words of Oscar Hammerstein II.

Hammerstein wrote these words for the Broadway musical, The Sound of Music. Before the Reprise of Sixteen Going on Seventeen, Maria says (sings) the following to Liesl:

A bell is no bell till you ring it
A song is no song till you sing it
And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay
Love isn’t love till you give it away…

God is Love. God gave us Love so that we can give it away.

Look around. See all this? It’s His. And it’s ours because He loves us!

Guess what?

We give it all back to God. We leave nothing behind. We give everything back to God.

Except Love.

Welcome to our family, Amy. We’re honored to have you.

Never stop honoring and loving your wife, Doug. Even through difficult times.

Congratulations, Doug and Amy. Lots of love to both of you.

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Here’s the reading:

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

1 Cor 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Word of the Lord.


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