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Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
To make an examination:
Set aside some quiet time for reflection. Start by praying to the Holy Spirit, asking for help in making a good examination to prepare for Confession. Read through the items on this list and honestly reflect on your behavior for each item. If necessary, take this list or some brief notes (keep them private!) to Confession to help you remember things. A Catholic examination of conscience traditionally follows the outline of the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Catholic Church.
I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
* Disobeyed the commandments of God or the Church?
* Refused to accept what God has revealed as true, or what the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
* Denied the existence of God?
* Nourished and protected my faith?
* Rejected everything opposed to a sound faith?
* Deliberately misled others about doctrine or the faith?
* Rejected the Catholic faith, joined another Christian denomination, or joined or practiced another religion?
* Joined a group forbidden to Catholics (Masons, communists, etc.)?
* Despaired about my salvation or the forgiveness of my sins?
* Presumed on God's mercy? (Committing a sin in expectation of forgiveness, or asking for forgiveness without conversion and practicing virtue.)
* Loved someone or something more than God (money, power, sex, ambition, etc.)?
* Let someone or something influence my choices more than God?
* Engaged in superstitious practices? (Incl. horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc.)
* Been involved in the occult? (Seances, ouija board, worship of Satan, etc.)
* Formally left the Catholic Church?
* Hidden a serious sin or told a lie in confession?
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
* Used the name of God in cursing or blasphemy?
* Failed to keep vows or promises that I have made to God?
* Spoken about the Faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things with irreverence, hatred or defiance?
* Watched television or movies, or listened to music that treated God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently?
* Used vulgar, suggestive or obscene speech?
* Belittled others in my speech?
* Behaved disrespectfully in Church?
* Misused places or things set apart for the worship of God?
* Committed perjury? (Breaking an oath or lying under oath.)
* Blamed God for my failings?
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
* Set time aside each day for personal prayer to God?
* Missed Mass on Sunday or Holy Days (through own fault w/o sufficient reason)?
* Committed a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament?
* Received a sacrament while in the state of mortal sin?
* Habitually come late to and/or leave early from Mass without a good reason?
* Shop, labor, or do business unnecessarily on Sunday or other Holy Days of Obligation?
* Not attend to taking my children to Mass?
* Knowingly eat meat on a forbidden day (or not fasting on a fast day)?
* Eat or drink within one hour of receiving Communion (other than medical need)?
Honor your father and your mother.
* (If still under my parents' care) Obeyed all that my parents reasonably asked of me?
* Neglected the needs of my parents in their old age or in their time of need?
* (If still in school) Obeyed the reasonable demands of my teachers?
* Neglected to give my children proper food, clothing, shelter, education, discipline and care (even after Confirmation)?
* Provided for the religious education and formation of my children for as long as they are under my care?
* Ensured that my children still under my care regularly frequent the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion?
* Educated my children in a way that corresponds to my religious convictions?
* Provided my children with a positive, prudent and personalized education in the Catholic teaching on human sexuality?
* Been to my children a good example of how to live the Catholic Faith?
* Prayed with and for my children?
* Lived in humble obedience to those who legitimately exercise authority over me?
* Have I broken the law?
* Have I supported or voted for a politician whose positions are opposed to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?
You shall not kill.
* Unjustly and intentionally killed a human being?
* Been involved in an abortion, directly or indirectly (through advice, etc.)?
* Seriously considered or attempted suicide?
* Supported, promoted or encouraged the practice of assisted suicide or mercy killing?
* Deliberately desired to kill an innocent human being?
* Unjustly inflicted bodily harm an another person?
* Unjustly threatened another person with bodily harm?
* Verbally or emotionally abused another person?
* Hated another person, or wished him evil?
* Been prejudiced, or unjustly discriminated against others because of their race, color, nationality, sex or religion?
* Joined a hate group?
* Purposely provoked another by teasing or nagging?
* Recklessly endangered my life or health, or that of another, by my actions?
* Driven recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?
* Abused alcohol or other drugs?
* Sold or given drugs to others to use for non-therapeutic purposes?
* Used tobacco immoderately?
* Encouraged others to sin by giving scandal?
* Helped another to commit a mortal sin (through advice, driving them somewhere, etc.?
* Caused serious injury or death by criminal neglect?
* Indulged in serious anger?
* Refused to control my temper?
* Been mean to, quarreled with, or willfully hurt someone?
* Been unforgiving to others, when mercy or pardon was requested?
* Sought revenge or hoped something bad would happen to someone?
* Delighted to see someone else get hurt or suffer?
* Treated animals cruelly, causing them to suffer or die needlessly?
You shall not commit adultery. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
* Practiced the virtue of chastity?
* Given in to lust? (The desire for sexual pleasure unrelated to spousal love in marriage.)
* Used an artificial means of birth control?
* Refused to be open to conception, without just cause? (Catechism, 2368)
* Participated in immoral techniques for in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination?
* Sterilized my sex organs for contraceptive purposes?
* Deprived my spouse of the marital right, without just cause?
* Claimed my own marital right without concern for my spouse?
* Deliberately caused male climax outside of normal sexual intercourse? (Catechism, 2366)
* Willfully entertained impure thoughts?
* Purchased, viewed, or made use of pornography?
* Watched movies and television that involve sex and nudity?
* Listened to music or jokes that are harmful to purity?
* Committed adultery? (Sexual relations with someone who is married, or with someone other than my spouse.)
* Committed incest? (Sexual relations with a relative or in-law.)
* Committed fornication? (Sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex when neither of us is married.)
* Engaged in homosexual activity? (Sexual activity with someone of the same sex.)
* Committed rape?
* Masturbated? (Deliberate stimulation of one's own sexual organs for sexual pleasure.)
* Engaged in sexual foreplay (petting) reserved for marriage?
* Preyed upon children or youth for my sexual pleasure?
* Engaged in unnatural sexual activities?
* Engaged in prostitution, or paid for the services of a prostitute?
* Seduced someone, or allowed myself to be seduced?
* Made uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances toward another?
* Purposely dressed immodestly?
You shall not steal. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
* Stolen? (Take something that doesn't belong to me against the reasonable will of the owner.)
* Envied others on account of their possessions?
* Tried to live in a spirit of Gospel poverty and simplicity?
* Given generously to others in need?
* Considered that God has provided me with money so that I might use it to benefit others, as well as for my own legitimate needs?
* Freed myself from a consumer mentality?
* Practiced the works of mercy?
* Deliberately defaced, destroyed or lost another's property?
* Cheated on a test, taxes, sports, games, or in business?
* Squandered money in compulsive gambling?
* Make a false claim to an insurance company?
* Paid my employees a living wage, or failed to give a full day's work for a full day's pay?
* Failed to honor my part of a contract?
* Failed to make good on a debt?
* Overcharge someone, especially to take advantage of another's hardship or ignorance?
* Misused natural resources?
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
* Knowingly and willfully deceived another?
* Perjured myself under oath?
* Committed detraction? (Destroying a person's reputation by telling others about his faults for no good reason.)
* Committed slander or calumny? (Telling lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation.)
* Committed libel? (Writing lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation.)
* Been guilty of rash judgment? (Assuming the worst of another person based on circumstantial evidence.)
* Failed to make reparation for a lie I told, or for harm done to a person's reputation?
* Failed to speak out in defense of the Catholic Faith, the Church, or of another person?
* Betrayed another's confidence through speech?
You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
* (see examination under the Third Commandment)
Second Precept of the Church
You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
* Made a good Confession of my mortal sins least once a year?
* Purposely omitted telling my mortal sins in my last Confession?
* Performed the penance I was given?
* Made reparation for any harm I have done to others?
Third Precept of the Church
You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
* Fulfilled my Easter duty to receive Holy Communion at least once between the First Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday?
* Received Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin?
* Fasted an hour before receiving Holy Communion?
* Received Holy Communion more than twice in one day?
Fourth Precept of the Church
You shall keep holy the Holy days of Obligation.
* (see examination under the Third Commandment)
Fifth Precept of the Church
You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
* Done penance every Friday, if not abstaining from meat, then some other form of penance?
* Abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent (if I am 14 years of age or older)?
* Fasted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (if I am between the ages of 18 and 59)?
* Spent time in prayer, doing spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and practicing self-denial?
Sixth Precept of the Church
You shall contribute to the support of the Church.
* Contributed a just amount of my time, talents and money to support my parish and the work of the Church?
Seventh Precept of the Church
You shall observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.
* Been living in a valid and licit marriage according to the laws of the Catholic Church?
* Abandoned my spouse and family by separation or divorce?
* Kept company with someone whom I cannot marry in the Catholic Church?
* Given scandal by living with a member of the opposite sex without the benefit of a marriage blessed by the Catholic Church?
* Entered into marriage with more than one person at the same time?
This detailed Catholic examination of conscience should help you reflect on how you are responding to the demands made by the love of God.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This Sunday's Gospel is about the Greatest Commandment. Jesus is asked for one, however He gives two: 'You shall love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all mind. This is the greatest and the first Commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets rely on these two Commandments.'
Some of the thoughts that came to mind during my reflection were:
- Open my eyes to see as You see
- No one is so faulty that You can not make them a Saint
- My weakness is no deterrent to His grace
- The only one who could fulfill the justice of God is God Himself
- There are no limits to the mercy of God
- We are called to be Saints - to be holy
- We affect everyone we come in contact with - everyone in our lives
- Jesus gives us a new Commandment: Love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU
So many thoughts running through - but what do they all mean?
Love your neighbor as yourself. Do I love myself? If I do not love myself, how can I love my neighbor? There is dignity and honor to being one's neighbor. I have the choice to love God, love myself, and love my neighbor. Do I act upon that love?
Then I started thinking about my neighbor - WHO is my neighbor? Geography came to mind - people next door, down the street, next street over, parishioners in my Church, and others who I come in contact with every day.
Then THAT neighbor came to mind. You know the one. The one who is absolutely obnoxious; drives you crazy; makes you upset just looking at him/her. The one most unlike (like) you - or - The one who uses your things and never puts them away; the one who borrows things and returns them broken; the one who allows their dog to poop in your yard and never picks it up; the one who revs the bike late at night when you're trying to relax or sleep; the one who plays that loud, awful music; the neighbor you would love to hate. And you think, Oh, if only God would allow it just this one time. And He humbles you.
There are no limits to the mercy of God. We are all God's children - He would never forsake one of His children. The refusal of God's Fatherly love is always at the root of humanity's divisions. How can I say that I love God and not love this neighbor? If we are all made in the image and likeness of God ... then that goes for my neighbor as well. God loves my neighbor, even the most obnoxious of all neighbors, despite their faults. We have a certain dignity in being in the image and likeness of God. We also have a responsibility as such.
True love of God yeilds love for our neighbor - without it, it may temporarily relieve our [my] conscience, but it will never bear lasting fruit. ~ Pope John Paul II
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Most holy apostle, St. Jude,
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
* Reconciliation (also Penance & Reconciliation)
Accusing ourselves of sins, confessing these sins, forgiveness, absolution, receiving God’s mercy, reconciling with the Church, conversion of our hearts and souls, performing the given penance, and our resolve never to offend God again – these are all aspects of this Sacrament. The names most commonly heard are the aspects associated with this Sacrament. What is the Sacrament’s real name?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects.
Accusation & Confession of Sins
We accuse ourselves of the sins committed after Baptism and confess them to Jesus Christ, through a Priest. Why sins committed after Baptism? At our Baptism, we are created anew. The sins of Adam and Eve (original sin) are wiped away; we are then christened with water and oil signifying that we are now a part of God’s family. The sins committed after Baptism are the ones we commit against God and neighbor. We need to atone for these sins, requesting God’s mercy, in order to share in His Heavenly Kingdom.
God is pure holiness and nothing unholy can enter His Kingdom.
In the Parable of the Wedding Feast, a man sent invitations to all his relatives, friends, and neighbors, asking them to come and share in this joyous occasion. When his friends and neighbors refused to come immediately, he called for the poor, blind, and lame, the outcasts of society. Before they could enter, they are given basins to wash in and new clothes to wear. One man entered the home not dressed properly for the feast and was immediately escorted out of the house and off the estate.
If our hearts and souls are not properly cleansed, we cannot enter into God’s Kingdom nor join in His Heavenly banquet.
‘In a profound sense, it is also a ‘confession’ – acknowledgement and praise – of the holiness of God and His mercy toward the sinful man.’ You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the Sacraments of Christian Initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for Him who has ‘put on Christ.’ But the Apostle John also says: ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ And the Lord, Himself, taught us to pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us. (CCC 1424 – 1425)
We need to go into Confession with a contrite heart. Contrition is true sorrow for your sins with the resolution not to sin again. Perfect contrition is when your sorrow and repugnance for sins committed comes from a love for God Who is loved above all else. Contrition is imperfect when the fear of damnation and other punishments that could occur because of our sins are greater than the love for God. By itself, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins (mortal sins), but it does influence the sinner to obtain forgiveness through this Sacrament. (CCC 1453)
By confessing our sins, we are taking an in-depth look at ourselves and the sins we are guilty of, taking responsibility for them, and opening ourselves up to God and into common union with the Church.
‘Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance, obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offenses committed against Him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church, which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example and by prayer, works for their conversion.’ (Lumen Gentium II)
Jesus instituted and entrusted to His disciples a gift of His love and mercy, a gift of forgiveness of sins. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ (John 20:22)
Through Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins is offered to each person by means of sacramental absolution by His Priests, the ministers of the Sacrament. The Council of Trent stated that Jesus instituted this Sacrament so the faithful, who have fallen into sin after Baptism, might receive God’s grace and mercy and be reconciled with God and the Church. When the Priest absolves you of your sins, Christ is absolving you. God’s Priests are the stewards of the Sacraments; the Priest’s work is secondary to Jesus. What was visible through Jesus’ work on earth has passed over into His mysteries.
Throughout history, God made covenants with His people, and sealed the covenants with an outward sign, a physical sign, and a shared meal.
* Noah – rainbow; sacrifice of animals
* Abraham – circumcision; sacrificial lamb
* Moses – sprinkling of blood of first born lamb; first born lamb
* Us – A New Covenant – Jesus; the Lamb of God
At the heart of every Biblical covenant, there is a solemn and sacred oath, with real power to change lives and history. The Sacraments still carry this power today. When we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, we are also vowing to God that we will not sin again and will amend our lives.
But the effect of this Sacrament depends on our disposition to receive it. Are we truly sorry for offending God? Do we regret asking God to partake in our sin? Yes, when we sin, we are ultimately asking God to partake in the very sin we are committing. God made us in His image and likeness, and through Baptism, we become members of His family, partaking in a share of His Divine Nature. When we sin, we are asking God to also partake in that sin, which He is unable to do. By our sin, we offend God.
Confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness, restores us into God’s family.
The Sacramental Rites strengthen our resolve through His Divine Grace, so that we may also enjoy in the Divine society, the Communion of Saints. Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world. He is also the creator, the second Person in the Most Holy Trinity. The One Who made matter and spirit also redeems matter and spirit; and He uses that matter and spirit to redeem us as well.
In the Our Father, we petition God to forgive our sins, but not only to forgive them, but also to forgive them ‘as we forgive others who sin against us.’ His mercy cannot penetrate our hearts if they are hardened against our brothers and sisters. The heart of the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son was full of resentment and hatred toward his brother. When his brother returned, the mercy and forgiveness that his father had toward his brother was not able to penetrate his own heart, it was full of the enmity and prejudice and not open to God’s love and mercy. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to God’s Grace. (CCC 2840)
In the Last Supper discourses of St. John’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a New Commandment: ‘You therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. A new Commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.’ (John 13: 34) Not only are we to love each other, we are to love each other as Jesus loves us. Jesus’ love for us loves to the end of time. As disciples, we are commissioned to do the same.
The Parable of the Merciless Servant ends with ‘…so also my Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.’ (Matthew 18:23-35) God will forgive us as we forgive others. If the resentment and hatred fills our hearts and we are unwilling to forgive them, God will forgive us in exactly the same way. ‘The heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.’ (CCC 2843)
Jesus insists on forgiving our brothers and sisters: turning the other cheek, giving our cloak to the one who has taken our coat, forgiving and loving our enemies, and granting forgiveness seventy times seven times, without limit.
Absolution & Reconciliation
When we confess our sins, we are reconciled back to God, Who is anxiously waiting to take us back. We are also reconciled back to the Church, the Body of Christ, who was also wounded by our sins. He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: ‘Therefore, if you bring your gift to the Altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the Altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’ (Matthew 5: 23-24)
During His public life, Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: He reintegrated forgiven sinners back into the community from which their sin had them alienated or even excluded. A remarkable sign of this fact is that Jesus receives sinners at His table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the people of God. (CCC 1443)
Reconciliation with the Church is entwined from the reconciliation to God. They are inseparable.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger son sins against his father by asking for his inheritance before his father is dead, stating that his father is already dead. The son is mesmerized by the temptation of living on his own, independent of his father and family. He becomes disappointed by the emptiness of the mirage but pride keeps him from returning. Alone and dejected, the son hits rock bottom and finally decides to return to his father’s house, humiliated. No longer feeling worthy as a son, he returns ready to become a slave.
We do the same thing every time we sin. By our sins, we proclaim that God is dead; that we can do anything and everything without his assistance and love. We decide that we can live the way WE want rather than doing His will.
Once we find that our way does not provide satisfaction, we return humiliated and broken, no longer feeling worthy to be His sons and daughters, we beg His forgiveness and ask to become hired hands.
‘The Church can forgive nothing without Christ and Christ does not wish to forgive anything without the Church. The Church can forgive nothing except to a penitent, that is to say, to a person whom Christ has touched with His grace: Christ does not wish to consider anything forgiven in a person who despises the Church.’ Sumo 11 (1 Dominica II Post Epiphaniam, 1)
When we forgive, our hearts have to be open to forgiveness and mercy. If they are hardened, we will be unable to receive God’s graces and love. God, Who has been anxiously awaiting our return, is waiting with open arms; He welcomes us back, forgiving and forgetting our sins. We are made anew – we are reborn, restored into His family.
Jesus prepared His Priests to act as fathers in the Church. They forgive like the father forgives in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. They help God’s children to be properly cleansed and clothed for the Heavenly banquet, to be reconciled back to God and the Church. The most important thing the Priest does in this Sacrament is to pronounce the words of absolution:
‘God, the Father of mercies,through the death and the resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among usfor the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Churchmay God give you pardon and peace,and I absolve you from your sinsin the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’
Penance & Satisfaction
It is called the Sacrament of Penance since it consecrates us, as sinners, to personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. For after we confess, we make amends for our sins. In our penance, we are not paying the price for our sins, since no human price could match what Jesus obtained for us on the Cross. It is, however, a personal commitment to God to begin anew. It is a way to join our physical and spiritual mortification to the Passion of Jesus, who obtained forgiveness for us.
In order to have the sins forgiven and absolved, the penitent receives from the confessor what is called a ‘penance’, usually in the form of prayers, actions, fasting, alms, the Stations of the Cross, etc. The confessor, according to the sins revealed, determines the quality and extent of the penance. Sometimes the penance can be performed immediately, other times it may take a couple days, such as during Holy Week. Penance can also be defined as ‘The payment of the temporal punishment due on account of the offence committed against God by sin.’ (St. Thomas, Summa Theologicae Supplement. 12.3)
In the early Church, not only were the confessions heard publicly, but also public penance was prescribed and performed in order to ensure that the penance was completed.
Conversion of our hearts & souls
Although we receive pardon for our sins through this Sacrament and God’s grace and mercy, it does not permit us to commit sin in the future. In fact, if we go to Confession with the attitude of expecting forgiveness and the intention of committing future sins, expecting those will also be forgiven, not only is our confession meaningless, but we have also sinned to a much greater degree.
This is a Sacrament of Conversion because it makes Sacramentally present, Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father after straying by sin. (CCC 1423) We recognize ourselves as sinners and inclined to commit sin, but through this Sacrament, God’s grace, and His mercy, our hearts are returned to God’s. When we request this Sacrament frequently, it also gives us greater resistance against sin and a resolve to do what is right and pleasing to God. When we are faced with difficulties, we can and are encouraged to seek assistance from friends, Priests, or Religious, who are faithful, prudent, and well informed of the Church’s teachings and the Catholic Faith. The Church also invites us to take our concerns to God in a special way, through this Sacrament.
At times, more than one decision can be morally justified but we may never do evil so that good may result from it. (CCC 1789)
Moral and spiritual conversion must be rooted in prayer and the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharistic. The more we pray with humility before God, the better we will be able to hear Him speak in the depths of our hearts. If we sincerely desire to live in a manner holy and pleasing to God, we must ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, Who will remain in us and lead us all to Truth. A conscience formed by the Spirit of Truth will be upright and reliable. (How to Form Your Catholic Conscience)
Contrition and Conversion draw us nearer to God, through rediscovering our true identity, which was upset and disturbed by sin. It is a liberation of the very depth of self and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of being saved, which the majority of people in our time are no longer capable of experiencing. (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation – Reconciliation and Penance)
So, what is the real name? It depends on which aspect you are speaking. As a whole, the Church, in the Catechism, says it is the Sacrament of Penance. Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation – Reconciliation and Penance, calls it both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. In Lumen Gentium II, the Sacrament is called the Sacrament of Penance. As long as you frequent the confessional with a humble and contrite heart, it really does not matter.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
(they probably still are)
Remember...I'm a cradle Catholic! It took me 30+ some years to finally figure out WHAT I'm supposed to do & say.
When I first started going to confession regularly, I would try to memorize my sins. By the time I got into the confessional and in front of the Priest, I would be so nervous that I would forget everything. Yes, I mean everything; sins, Sign of the Cross, even the Act of Contrition. So I started making 'laundry lists' and taking the Act of Contrition, written on a piece of paper, with me into the confessional.
However, I never really studied HOW I was supposed to go to confession, the process, and made more blunders.
I would rattle off my laundry list of sins as fast as I could, hoping that the Priest would not hear everything. Once done, I would fold up my list, put my hands in my lap, and look at the Priest.
I wondered why the Priest always asked me, 'Is that all?'
Thinking...What? Isn't this enough? You want more? You want my blood, too?
(although never stated aloud).
With a little trepidation, I politely answered 'yeah.'
It took me quite a few months and a lot of reading about the Sacrament before I figured out that I am supposed to let the Priest know I'm done by saying something like 'for these and all my sins I am truly sorry.' Guess the hand signals and eye contact were not enough, eh?
So if you go into the confessional and make mistakes, don't worry ... I've already made them all and I still love this Sacrament! Go ahead ... make a list of sins and bring in a prayer card with the Act of Contrition. I did, and still do; it really helps.
1) The only President to serve on the Supreme Court William H. Taft
2) The playing 'Hail to the Chief' at Presidential functions was started by his second wife, Julia John Tyler
3) The first President to be born in a hospital Jimmy Carter
4) Supersition of retracing his steps was an asset in leading troops in battle during the war Ulysses S. Grant
5) Sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase Thomas Jefferson
6) First President to wear long trousers. All previous wore knee breeches James Madison
7) Answered the White House telephone, personally Grover Cleveland
8) Only President to be sworn into office on Air Force One Lyndon B. Johnson
9) November 7, 1848 was the first time a Presidential election was held on the same day in every state Zachary Taylor
10) First President of the United States of America George Washington
11) First President to travel under water in a submarine Harry S. Truman
12) Gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes Franklin Pierce
13) The only President who served both in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 Andrew Jackson
14) Was known as a man of few words and was even nicknamed 'Silent Cal' Calvin Coolidge
15) The first President to be born in the United States Martin Van Buren
16) The first President to resign his office Richard M. Nixon
17) At 6 foot, 4 inches, he was the tallest President Abraham Lincoln
18) Had a putting green installed on the White House lawn Dwight D. Eisenhower
19) Established the first permanent library in the White House Millard Fillmore
20) The oldest person to be elected President Ronald Regan
21) The only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms Grover Cleveland
22) First President to have an asteroid named after him Herbert Hoover
23) Brought six states into the union. This was more than any other President in one term Benjamin Harrison
24) Created the Peace Corps John F. Kennedy
25) Expanded the United States westward to the Pacific Ocean James K. Polk
26) First President to graduate from law school Rutherford B. Hayes
27) First President to be photographed John Quincy Adams
28) First President to live in the White House John Adams
29) Reformed the civil service by signing the Pendleton Act Chester A. Arthur
30) First Vice President made President after an assassination Andrew Johnson
31) First President to use radio to speak to the American public Franklin D. Roosevelt
32) Established the Office of Homeland Security George W. Bush
33) First President to arrive at his inauguration in an automobile Warren G. Harding
34) Survived not one, but two attempted assassinations Gerald R. Ford
35) Wrote Latin with one hand and Greek with the other James A. Garfield
36) President during the fall of the Berlin Wall George Bush
37) First Presidnet to have been a U.S. Senator James Monroe
38) The only President who studied to become a doctor William Henry Harrison
39) First President to hold a press conference Woodrow Wilson
40) First President to have been a Rhodes Scholar William Clinton
41) The only President who never married James Buchanan
42) Always wore a red carnation in his lapel for good luck William McKinley
43) The stuffed, cuddly teddy bear was named after this President Theodore Roosevelt
Monday, October 13, 2008
God created a New Covenant for us, through Jesus Christ. The Eucharistic Prayer (as well as the Apostle's Creed) is the terms of this Covenant. Every time we accept the Covenant through our proclaiming the Great Amen and sealed with partaking of The paschal Lamb, we choose to accept the blessings and curses that come with that Covenant.
Every time I proclaim the Great Amen, whether in voice or song, and eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, the paschal mystery, the Eucharist, I choose to accept the blessings and the curses, based on my adherence to that Covenant.
So, every time I give unselfishly, forgive my neighbor, sacrifice or pray for someone, or love a stranger, I choose to accept the blessings of the Covenant, the blessings that God may grant me for adhering to the terms of the Covenant.
However, every time I sin, or say something against my neighbor, or harbor hatred, or refuse to put God first and foremost in my life, I choose the curses. I choose. God didn't choose for me, I chose! God gave me free will, the freedom to choose between good and evil. If I do not choose God, I choose the curse of my decision.
At one time, I used to be a 'cafeteria Catholic' - Catholic only in name, not in deed. I chose which parts of the Catholic faith I wanted to believe and act upon. Birth control, death penalty (in some cases), and gay marriage were some of the things I used to think the Catholic faith was too old fashioned and needed to come into the 21st century. Because of my actions, talking with friends, or even electing a candidate who believed in these things, I was not choosing God's way - I was choosing man's way. Because I was still receiving the Most Holy Eucharist, I was also choosing the curses that came with my decision.
This brings a very profound realization to mind when I receive the Most Holy Eucharist now. How am I going to behave? What am I going to decide?
Blessing ... or ... Curse
Saturday, October 11, 2008
1) The only President to serve on the Supreme Court
2) The playing 'Hail to the Chief' at Presidential functions was started by his second wife, Julia
3) The first President to be born in a hospital
4) Supersition of retracing his steps was an asset in leading troops in battle during the war
5) Sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase
6) First President to wear long trousers. All previous wore knee breeches
7) Answered the White House telephone, personally
8) Only President to be sworn into office on Air Force One
9) November 7, 1848 was the first time a Presidential election was held on the same day in every state
10) First President of the United States of America
11) First President to travel under water in a submarine
12) Gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes
13) The only President who served both in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812
14) Was known as a man of few words and was even nicknamed 'Silent Cal'
15) The first President to be born in the United States
16) The first President to resign his office
17) At 6 foot, 4 inches, he was the tallest President
18) Had a putting green installed on the White House lawn
19) Established the first permanent library in the White House
20) The oldest person to be elected President
21) The only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms
22) First President to have an asteroid named after him
23) Brought six states into the union. This was more than any other President in one term
24) Created the Peace Corps
25) Expanded the United States westward to the Pacific Ocean
26) First President to graduate from law school
27) First President to be photographed
28) First President to live in the White House
29) Reformed the civil service by signing the Pendleton Act
30) First Vice President made President after an assassination
31) First President to use radio to speak to the American public
32) Established the Office of Homeland Security
33) First President to arrive at his inauguration in an automobile
34) Survived not one, but two attempted assassinations
35) Wrote Latin with one hand and Greek with the other
36) President during the fall of the Berlin Wall
37) First Presidnet to have been a U.S. Senator
38) The only President who studied to become a doctor
39) First President to hold a press conference
40) First President to have been a Rhodes Scholar
41) The only President who never married
42) Always wore a red carnation in his lapel for good luck
43) The stuffed, cuddly teddy bear was named after this President
a) George Washington
b) John Adams
c) Thomas Jefferson
d) James Madison
e) James Monroe
f) John Quincy Adams
g) Andrew Jackson
h) Martin Van Buren
i) William Henry Harrison
j) John Tyler
k) James K. Polk
l) Zachary Taylor
m) Millard Fillmore
n) Franklin Pierce
o) James Buchanan
p) Abraham Lincoln
q) Andrew Johnson
r) Ulysses S. Grant
s) Rutherford B. Hayes
t) James A. Garfield
u) Chester A. Arthur
v) Grover Cleveland
w) Benjamin Harrison
x) Grover Cleveland
y) William McKinley
z) Theodore Roosevelt
aa) William H. Taft
bb) Woodrow Wilson
cc) Warren G. Harding
dd) Calvin Coolidge
ee) Herbert Hoover
ff) Franklin D. Roosevelt
gg) Harry S. Truman
hh) Dwight D. Eisenhower
ii) John F. Kennedy
jj) Lyndon B. Johnson
kk) Richard M. Nixon
ll) Gerald R. Ford
mm) Jimmy Carter
nn) Ronald Regan
oo) George Bush
pp) William Clinton
qq) George W. Bush
Bloggers - anyone can post this on their blog - see how many of your readers can get these correct.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I am such a hypocrite! I tell people how wonderful this Sacrament is - and then I make every excuse NOT to go. What's wrong with this picture? (!)
So, to be quite honest, during Adoration last night, I read over an examination of conscience. I can't remember the last time I wept before Jesus in Adoration ... but as I wrote down my sins (yes, I write a 'laundry list' so I can remember what my sins are when I attend Confession), prayed, reread them, and said an Act of Contrition, I wept. I knew in that moment that I helped torture our Lord and Savior.
Now I'm struggling over whether to go early tomorrow morning (Friday) at the Cathedral or wait until Saturday morning and go to my Spiritual Advisor. I really want to go tomorrow morning and attend Mass. But there is an equally strong side of me that really wants my Spiritual Advisor to hear my Confession. If I wait until I go to my Spiritual Advisor, I do not feel worthy to attend Mass and receive our Lord on Friday. If I go to the Cathedral on Friday, my Spiritual Advisor won't hear my confession, another Priest will, not that it is bad, it's just not my Spiritual Advisor. Am I making any sense, Lord????
Lord, give me direction!
I totally missed Confession & Mass on Friday morning. However, I went to see my Spiritual Advisor today - and I can't tell you what a blessing it is to have him hear my Confession and talk with him. He has such a gentle and humble soul and guides me toward the life God wants me to live. Now that my soul has been cleansed, I will attend the vigil Mass.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is a Sacrament of healing and forgiveness. Through the Sacrament, the penitent receives forgiveness from God for the offenses committed against God and the community. Through this Sacrament, the penitent is resurrected from a spiritual death. St. Maximilian Kolbe said that our lives are meaningless without God; that it is only by dying to ourselves that we may live eternally. For this Sacrament to truly achieve its purpose, it must be an integral part of our lives and bring us into a deeper and more fervent love and service of God and neighbor.
The action of the penitent is a symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation and is attributed to God's grace. Approaching the Sacrament with contrition and repentance, resolving to sin no more, takes place within the context of an awareness of God's love. The penitent trusts in God's mercy, compassion, healing, and forgiveness. Contrition and conversion draw the penitent nearer to the holiness of God, into a deeper intimacy with God, and a rediscovering of one’s true identity as a child of God. Reconciliation is a symbol of life - dying to sin and rising to new life.
The sacrament of Reconciliation is an action that is symbolic. Its aim is to reconcile sinners to God and the community of believers (the Church – the Body of Christ). It is a gift from a merciful God to humanity in order to reconcile the world to Himself. God is actively reconciling in the Sacrament. Reconciliation is the symbol of God and the Church who are mutually related.
The major symbols in the Church for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are: Keys, Purple Stole, Raised Hand, Sign of the Cross, and a Scourging Whip.
Keys. Keys crisscrossed in the shape of an “X” are the most common symbol for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The symbol originates with Jesus’ words to Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19), by which He established the Sacrament of Reconciliation and gave the Church the authority to forgive sins (see also John 20:21-23: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’).
Stole. The stole is the primary symbol of the ordained priesthood. It is the priest in persona Christi, as a representative of Christ who grants Sacramental absolution. Christ is the High Priest behind the priest. A stole is a long, narrow strip of cloth worn over the shoulders, which hangs in front in equal lengths on the right and left sides. The stole signifies the priest’s authority to preside over the Sacraments in general, and his authority to absolve sins in particular. When a priest hears confessions, he wears a purple stole, which symbolizes repentance and sorrow.
A Raised Hand. During the Sacrament of Reconciliation, after the penitent makes the Act of Contrition, the priest offers the Prayer of Absolution, the blessing that removes the person’s sins, and as he does so he extends his right hand over the penitent’s head.
Sign of The Cross. The priest makes a Sign of the Cross over the penitent as he recites the final words of the Prayer of Absolution, “And I absolve you from all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body upon the Cross” (1 Peter 2:24a). Jesus has reconciled all things through himself, and he has made peace by the blood of his Cross (Colossians 1:20).
Other symbols of the Sacrament
Parable of the Lost Sheep. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15: 4-7)
The shepherd was not confident that he would find the lost sheep. But having found it, the lost sheep was then eternally secure. There was no effort on the part of the sheep to return to the flock; it was the Shepherd who carried the sheep back home. He did not simply lead the sheep back to the flock or give it directions on how to find the flock; he picked it up and carried it on his shoulders. In returning to the flock, these lost ones had not taken a single step of themselves. It seems they made no effort at all in repenting, yet they did repent. In repenting, the shepherd did all the work in them to bring them back and ensure their safety.
Rose. The rose is a symbol for many things in Christianity (Mary, Mystery, Paradise, martyrdom), the seal of the Confessional among them. The ancient Romans believed that Cupid, the Roman god of love, gave a rose to Harpocrates as a bribe for not letting on what his mother Venus, the goddess of love, was up to. Hence, the rose became a symbol of confidentiality. This symbolism carried over into Christianty, and the doors of Confessionals are sometimes decorated with the rose. From these Roman and Christian associations comes the phrase "sub rosa" or “under the rose," meaning secretly or confidentially.
Parable of the Lost Son. ‘…Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ They began to celebrate. … ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ (Luke 15: 11-32)
This again speaks of God's merciful and compassionate reaction to the repentant sinner. What is unique about the Parable of the Lost Son is that it focuses more on the process of repentance. Unlike the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the father in this parable does not look for the son, but relies on God, who is working behind the scenes. The lost son was truly lost, being dead in his sins. When the son asked his father for his portion of the inheritance, he was stating that his father was already dead. He was not behaving in the spirit of his father.
The same is for us who sin against God. Within the Christian community, there are those who may call themselves sons of God, but if they do not behave as sons of God, they are sons only in a nominal sense. The second son also does not behave according to the spirit of his father in welcoming his brother home. He harbors bitterness and hatred toward him. "Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother;" and "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1John 3:15) The younger son did not love his father by implying his father was dead and the second son did not love his brother.
Monday, October 6, 2008
In failing to confess, Lord, I would only
hide you from myself, not myself from you.~ St. Augustine
A friend of mine wanted to know how to go to Confession, especially examine your conscience. One of the ways I examine my conscience is through the Beatitudes. The information below is taken from several articles and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I pray this information helps you examine your conscience in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
There are five steps of making a good examination of conscience:
1) Give thanks to God
2) Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your sins and to help eliminate them from your soul
3) Ask the Holy Spirit for a total account of your soul, from your previous Confession to now
4) Ask pardon from God for your faults
5) Resolve to amend these faults, through God's grace, and never sin again
~ St. Ignatius Loyola
Using the Beatitudes to prepare for Confession
(Matthew 5: 3-12)
The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray His charity. They reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts. (CCC 1717 & 1719)
'Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'
- Do I trust God with all of my heart, preferring Him to everything?
- Do I abandon myself to God's providence, giving Him my anxieties in exchange for His joy?
- Do I choose poverty to be like Jesus, rich in faith and free in the Spirit?
- If I am faithful in the small things, like material possessions, the Lord will entrust me with greater things.
'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'
- Do I have real sorrow in my heart for my sins?
- Do I ask for sorrow for my sins?
- Do I wallow in my own problems, or do I seek out and comfort those who are lonely, rejected, or suffering?
- Do I allow the Holy Spirit to convict my of my sins, receiving sorrow which leads to repentance?
- Do I realize that my sins are not just breaking the rules, but breaking Jesus' heart?
'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth'
- Am I haughty and proud, or humble like Christ?
- If I am gifted in academics, sports, music, or some other talent, do I give God the glory?
- Am I a servant for God?
- Do I seek revenge or turn the other cheek and forgive?
'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied'
- Do I long for God's will to be done, or do I pursue my own interests apart from Him?
- Am I lukewarm in my faith, being satisfied with mediocrity?
- Do I worry about what what I am to eat, drink, or wear, or do I first seek out God and His holiness, knowing after Him, everything else will be provided?
- Am I either filled by hungering and thirsting for holiness or lose my spiritual apetite and starve myself?
'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'
- Am I mindful of how much God has forgiven me, or am I quick to condemn and slow to forgive others the harm they have caused me?
- Am I resentful?
- Am I sympathetic to the needs of others?
- Do I pray and work for the salvation of souls?
- Do I offer our lives up in ransom for others, dying on someone else's cross?
- I am in desperate need of receiving mercy, but mercy is very expensive to give. Therefore, I need an all-merciful Savior and to become a merciful follower of such a Savior.
'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'
- Have I not only rejected thoughts of lust, but prayed to have a pure heart and live a life of purity?
- Have I glorified God with my body?
- Do I act like my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
- Do I obey the first and most basic Commandment - to Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength?
- Do I understand that my commitment to God must be all or nothing, He will not accept lukewarm.
'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God'
- Do I not only avoid harming others, but strive to bring peace and reconciliation into the lives of others?
- Jesus showed us the price of peace - His Cross. Am I willing to follow Him, reconciling everything to Him?
- Do I take my eyes off of Jesus on the Cross when things get tough, losing sight of the path of peace?
'Blessed are those who are pursecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'
- Do I have the courage to do the will of God?
- If mocked for living according to God's laws, do I give in?
- Do I freely choose to live my life for God, exposing myself to persecution?
'Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven'
- Do I spread the Faith and refuse to compromise it?
- Do I not only refuse to use the Lord's name in vain, but seek to correct those who do?
- Have I been ashamed of Jesus, or do I challenge my friends who are falling into sin?
While the Ten Commandments mostly tell us what to avoid, the Beatitudes tell us what to become. By examining Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, we can take a deeper look at the state of our souls before Confession.