Friday, January 12, 2007

It's all about Grace

Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited.
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Last month, I posted on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here are two comments from anonymous bloggers:

1) "How frequently are Catholics required/expected to go to Confession?"

Required: Once a year
Recommended: As one priest’s father told him when he was young, “when it’s time for a haircut, it’s time for Confession”

2) "While I don't think going to Confession should be traumatic, I don't object to a little bit of 'You did what?' or a brief lecture on how and why your sins are wrong and should be avoided. Sometimes I confess things that the Church says are sins but which don't seem to me to cause a lot of damage to anyone (getting drunk, missing Mass). It helps me get turned around to hear someone with authority, other than words in a book, tell me that I have to knock it off. Also, in my Confessions, I have not left feeling like I really nailed it because I do not feel I really put words to what I am doing that really keeps me away from God. It's not specific acts or omissions - it's just a general failure to stay Christ-focused. Should that be confessed?"

Yes, it's a good idea to mention this to the priest that you have that general feeling, but keep in mind that you've just told him specifically how you failed to be Christ-focused. If you've examined your conscience as well as you can, and confessed as much as you can remember and as specifically as possible, then you don't need to confess a general failure. God knows we are all sinners, and we all fail in general. The Sacrament clears up the specific ways that we fail.

Also, and this is probably more important, Confession is not about what we do...it's about what God does! In other words, we don't need to make a perfect Confession for God to forgive us. Yes, we do our part, and examine our conscience and confess what's on our minds and hearts. But, it's all about the Grace of the Sacrament! Each of us makes an imperfect Confession each time; none of us "really nails it". The only thing we nail is our sins to the Cross. Christ's perfect sacrifice on Calvary washes them clean.

At this morning's Mass, we heard the beautiful Gospel story of the paralytic man (Mk 2:1-12) who is lowered down through the roof of a house by his friends to be healed by Christ. What good friends! The urgency of this man's friends to get him healed has always struck me. Their faith struck Jesus immediately. Do we have the same sense of urgency with our friends or family members who are paralyzed by sin to bring them to Christ for healing? Do we encourage them to come to Confession, even though it has been a while since they've been away? Do we invite them to join us for Mass or Adoration? If we truly believe that Christ can heal them through these two sacraments, then we will follow the example of the paralytic's friends and bring them to the Divine Physician.

18 Comments:

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr. Greg:

I'm often surprised to hear from my peers that they are afraid of Confession. Many of them have not confessed in years. When I ask why, I'm told they don't know what to expect in the way of penance and don't want the priest to think less of them for their sins. I think it would be extremely helpful for you to give these lapsed confessors a brief explanation of what to expect during confession today. It's particularly important for them to understand that they are confessing directly to God, using a priest as an "agent," and that the priest doesn't think less of them for thier sins. Hopefully this will bring peace and a better understanding of this sacrament to these individuals.

 
At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year I met a priest while overseas. He could tell from my initial embarrassment that I wasn't much of a Massgoer. He instantly asked me to "Come back to Mass, come back to God." I haven't - but the memory of how important it obviously was to him sits with me.
A few months ago at a funeral I met a priest. I knew he had known my sister well in his old parish so I introduced myself. But then I felt I needed to say that he wouldn't have seen me around at Mass. He was trying to be kind, but his response was "That doesn't matter". But if the message of Catholicism is true, it does matter....
Re Confession. It is an "all or nothing". I wish I could go to Confession and say that I don't know how much I believe. But it seems like I would have to go and say I have missed Mass a zillion times and I will try not to do it again... and I can't say that.

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiwi Nomad: You clearly want to talk to a priest about how conflicted you are about faith. Do it, either in Confession or an arranged meeting. Go to someone you know to be approachable and kind, and don't roll the dice with a stranger. I know I sound bossy, but I have been and am in your shoes and the anxiety will not go away until you talk with someone who knows about it. You're a regular blogger with thoughtful comments, so you have things to say and want to talk. This blogsite is good (I use it) but it is not the same as a face-to-face meeting with someone whose life work it is to teach faith.

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous kiwiNomad 2006 said...

Anonymous, I know you are right. But about a year ago I did try to talk to a priest who is indeed a kind man. But it was a bit of a disaster. His faith was so real to him that he couldn't understand how I could have any doubts. So I feel a bit 'stuck'. Confession doesn't seem like the right place to try and talk.

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Yet another anonymous said...

I recently went to confession for the first time in many years. I had no problems being honest about what I had been doing in that time (hadn't been to Mass in as long as I hadn't been to confession), and the priest I confessed to was really wonderful and very kind. I think the "face to face" setting made things easier to discuss than with the privacy screen (I've always hated that thing). The priest asked me some questions to help probe my memory for any additional sins, but it was done very gently. I wasn't lectured, didn't get yelled at, and the penance (20 Hail Marys) was a lot less than I expected (or deserved). The priest welcomed me back to the church and I walked out of there feeling much lighter and happier than I had in eons. So very glad I decided to bite the bullet and go!

 
At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

I too, as everyone knows, was away for a long time. Every time I go to confession I always expect more of a pennance... but I am harder on myself then anyone else might be maybe.

I always go face to face, well part of that is I also almost always go to the same priest...and by now I think he wouold know my voice anyway never mind my "repeat offences".

Confession, it is nerve wracking but I think on my part that has to do with pride and not wanting to do what i know I need to.

 
At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is mastrabation a sin?

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiwi Nomad: Geez, I am amazed that you said that because I almost said, in my earlier comments, that you should not be disheartened by a priest who cannot relate to your struggle. I know the problem. I don't know what to say about it except I have tried to tell faith-filled people I have encountered that they must understand that there are people out there who can't find it. God does not send a thunderbolt to everyone. Keep your eyes open for the right person and try again.

 
At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This from the catechism of the Catholic Church,

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"50


Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51

How awesome that God's grace is already at work when we begin to long for Him, search for Him. The last line.......for without him we can do nothing. His grace (a favor, free gift) is already at work within us as evidenced by a desire to meet Jesus, a desire to return fully to His church and all the Sacraments.

 
At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon #4,

Masturbation is a sin because it is a sexual act meant only to satisfy one's self. Sexual intimacy, as designed by God, is meant only for a husband and wife who are open to life. It is an act meant for giving of one self to the other spouse. This sounds totally radical compared to the secular messages about sex!
This would definately be a good question for Father Greg or for adult classes.

 
At 9:57 PM, Anonymous kiwiNomad 2006 said...

Anon, thanks for your support and understanding.

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Masturbation - yuck!

 
At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited."

Everybody?

 
At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading an article sometime back about how men and women can't be close friends and the friendship remain platonic. I wholeheartedly disagree beause I have had close male friends for a very long time and we are friends nothing more. The author didn't write about where her research came from.

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have to be realistic and that is teenagers and kids even younger are having sex so what is wrong with having sex education in the schools? It is not encouraging kids to have sex its just that the schools realize kids are doing it so why not educate them?

 
At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How are you doing Kiwi? I had a teacher friend come back from a trip to New Zealand and she told me if her family didn't all live here she would easily move there as it is so beautiful there and the people are so nice.

 
At 5:56 AM, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I am doing well and am just enjoying summer holidays. Usually I go tripping away camping etc in my hols, but I have been staying fairly close to home. After six months away last year, I am enjoying my own bed!

 
At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kiwi,

You are lucky its so warm there. We had nice weather for a while and suddenly it got cold-brrr. Here the weather goes up and down a lot so your body doesn't get a chance to aclimatize. I too like camping! I have done a lot of camping in my day but my husband is a city boy so I haven't since I have been married but he has taken me travelling so that's cool.

 

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