“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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Elijah’s Journey is Our Journey

08/10/2015

Reflections on the Readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • 1 Kings 19:4-8
  • Ephesians 4:30-5:2
  • John 6:41-51

Elijah was pissed. Or maybe depressed. Maybe a little of both.

He does what the Lord tells him to do. At God’s command, he proclaims a drought to put an end to the worship of Baal, the god of rain. He slaughters 450 prophets of Baal at the Lord’s command.

And Queen Jezebel promises to kill him for his actions.

So Elijah pleads for God to end his life.

How does God answer Elijah? He tells him “you need to make a 40-day journey.”

Nice.

God gave him the strength he needed. Whether Elijah wanted it or not!

Jesus provides nourishment for our journey, too.

God provided Elijah a meal for a journey of 40 days. All it was was a hearth cake and water.

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

How much more do we get! We receive the body and blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ Himself!

And all God asks of us is that His eternal meal nourish us for seven short days.

And if we want and are able and so choose, we can go back tomorrow. To be nourished again.

What a privilege to be chosen — and to choose — to be a Catholic.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Have faith. Please! Is it too formal to say “I urge you?” Okay, I’m begging you. Have faith!

Have faith that this is true. That what Jesus Christ taught is true. That He is the Bread of Life. That we can receive Him every day in the Holy Eucharist.

And that His presence within you will strengthen you for your journey.

What questions do you have? What don’t you believe? What prevents you from accepting that the bread we eat is truly the Body of Christ, His real body? How can I help you?

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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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Excerpts from the Holy Bible taken from the Lectionary for Mass and the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal, published by Catholic Book Publishing Company. I also refer to the notes at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, usccb.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is Why We’re All Catholics

04/27/2015

That’s with a small ‘c,’ folks. Just not in the blog title.

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ – Acts 11:9b

Today’s Reading is Acts 11:1-18, “The Baptism of the Gentiles Explained.”

When in college, I questioned my Roman Catholic faith. Two of my professors, Dr. Iver Yeager and Dr. David Koss, taught Religion courses. Excellent instructors.

I went to a public high school that had such a large Jewish student (and probably teacher) population, we had days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I hadn’t had a religion class since graduating 8th grade from St. Nicholas. I even met my first atheist in high school.

I went to Catholic grade schools. Hearing that my friend, Karen, did not believe in any God was shocking to me. I had never even considered such a possibility.

So when I took an Introduction to the Bible course at this non-Catholic college and seriously courted a young woman who was Christian but not Catholic, I started questioning whether I truly believed that I was a Roman Catholic. Was I a non-Catholic Christian?

This was heavy stuff that I never ever contemplated when choosing a college. And here I was, on my own, evaluating and making life decisions. A pretend grown up in a (still) adolescent brain.

I have posted previously about my Catholic faith. I don’t intend to convert any of you by reading today’s simple post. But I will tell you that my contemplation, prayer, and study over the course of many months convinced me that to be Catholic is to honor the tradition of the Apostles and the will of Jesus Christ.

Not because somebody said so. Because I saw it and believed it.

What do I believe?

I believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I believe that:

(God) never cease(s) to gather a people to (Himself), so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to (His) name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Think about it. Jesus instituted the celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. He commanded the disciples to “do this in memory of me.” I cannot possibly convince you in a several hundred word blog post, so I point you here instead.

I believe that the popes form an unbroken lineage of bishops that began with Jesus hand-selecting Simon Peter as the first Bishop of Rome.

I believe that Confession is a sacramental sign of forgiveness that we receive directly from Jesus Christ, through the Catholic priest as a conduit for Jesus Himself.

And I believe that today’s Reading, in which Peter, through visions, comes to understand that the Gentiles are as worthy of believing as “the circumcised believers,” confirms that the Christian church is a catholic (universal) church.

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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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