Stay in the Present

03/16/2016

If you continue to dwell on a past failure, what are you going to miss?

That’s right! The here and now!

And who wants you in the here and now?

Perhaps the omnipresent Lord, Jesus Christ?

And who wants you out of the here and now?

Perhaps the evil one, Satan, who wants you to have nothing to do with Jesus?

I heard an excellent confession story today, told by Johnnette Benkovic on the EWTN Radio program, Women of Grace. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

 

Satan’s helpers treat you like a volleyball, batting you back and forth between the past and the future. All to keep you out of the present.

And away from the omnipresent Lord, Jesus.

The Catholic Church requires us to go to confession at least once a year. That’s all.

That’s all I did in the last year, despite my “good intentions” to go more frequently.

Theoretically, we can go to confession as often as we can receive Holy Communion. Daily.

Once a year is far from daily.

As Father Patrick told me yesterday, not going to confession keeps me battling with myself.

Go to confession.

And do it more frequently than once a year.

I need to add it to my calendar.

You, too.

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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.


“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.


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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