- Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:06
Have you ever thought about the scriptural exhortation that “A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit”? What does it mean? What does it mean for me? Why do I need a contrite (a feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming) heart to be a person of faith? When I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or approach the confession box my thoughts and feelings zero-in on contrition, sin and what it all means. Some days I am plagued by the heaviness of sin (separation from God but also living divorced from a good sense of self and relations with others). Here, I am talking about the place of mercy –God’s mercy– for me.
The Responsory for a recent reading in the Office of Readings (Sunday, 14th Sunday through the Year) has us sing: My sins are embedded like arrows in my flesh. Lord, before they wound me, heal me with the medicine of repentance.
A clean heart create for me, O God. Put a steadfast spirit within me. Heal me with the medicine of repentance.
I found myself thinking about what Saint Augustine said about sin in one of his sermons. (The italics is Augustine using Scripture.) Perhaps the following portion of the sermon is of interest for you. The spiritual life, indeed, our whole personhood, needs to consider how we deal with sin in our lives.
Saint Augustine said:
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- Friday, 08 March 2013 06:19
One of the things I did this week was to available myself to the sacrament of Confession. As a spiritual disciple I try to get to the sacrament every month; regrettably it was more than a month since the last time I received the sacrament. Let me also recognize that Father Luigi Giussani encouraged the Memores Domini and other followers in Communion and Liberation to go to confession every 15 days. It was great to go to confession: a refreshed sense of life in Christ, especially in my relations with others, in the reception of Holy Communion, but I had the distinct feeling of having a “new humanity.” Going to confession is a recognition of Someone greater in my life, that the living of my is not merely about me and my selfish interests, and that sin is corrosive, but the sacrament of confession (aka penance, or reconciliation), helps me recognize the truth about me: that I am truly loved by God, whose other name is Mercy.
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- Sunday, 24 June 2012 15:45
A person who attends a bible study I organize asked if indulgences are still possible, in vogue, as it were. “Weren’t they done away with at Vatican II?”, I was asked. I assured this person that indeed indulgences were still a common practice in the Catholic Church and that they have received a renewed sensibility with Benedict XVI. THE thing that catapulted the Church into the protestant revolution is now being talked about with seriousness and sincerity because it is realized that the practice of giving indulgences does help us to know ourselves and the mercy of God better.
In brief, the Catechism teaches that “The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance” (1471ff).
So, what is an indulgence? Why would a Catholic be interested in knowing more about indulgences?
“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”
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- Thursday, 21 June 2012 09:40
The Sacrament of Confession (aka Reconciliation or Penance) is a source of a new life for the Christian. It sets the soul ablaze in the love of God. It radically re-orients your life anew.
Change is difficult; admitting that one is a sinner is the grace of God in action. It is only by God’s grace do we have the fortitude and courage to face our ugly self. Who wants to admit one is a sinner? Not many people. But when you realize that holiness is recognized in knowing who you are, that you are a loved sinner, and accepting the invitation to speak with Jesus Christ through the ministry of the priesthood, all is different.
The confession of sins helps us to confront our pride and our wrong-doing in a concrete, loving manner. This sacrament is nothing more, nothing less than taking the merciful hand of God.
Throw yourself onto the mercy of the Triune God. A little encouragement is here in this short video
- Monday, 06 February 2012 15:45
Today, in Rome,
there is a Gregorian University sponsored Symposium entitled “Towards Healing
and Renewal.” It is a four day gathering of professionals and clergy-types who
have responsibility for working with victims and family members of sexual
abuse. While not personally in attendance, Pope Benedict XVI was present
through his personal message sent to participants and with the presence of
several cardinals and bishops, Including William Cardinal Levada, 76, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Levada’s address, “The
Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge,”
The Pope’s message iterates in this context, as he has done in the
past, his hope and life’s work that “healing for abuse victims must be of
paramount concern in the Christian community,” with “a profound renewal of the
Church at every level.” Further, he “supports and encourages every effort to
respond with evangelical charity to the challenge of providing children and
vulnerable adults with an ecclesial environment conducive to their human and
spiritual growth” and he urges the participants in the Symposium “to continue
drawing on a wide range of expertise in order to promote throughout the Church
a vigorous culture of effective safeguarding and victim support.”
Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge Toward Healing and
Renewal” is the title given to this Symposium for Catholic Bishops and
Religious Superiors on the Sexual Abuse of Minors. For leaders in the Church
for whom this Symposium has been planned, the question is both delicate and
urgent. Just two years ago, in his reflections on the “Year for Priests” at the
annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in
direct and lengthy terms about priests who “twist the sacrament [of Holy
Orders] into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly
wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.” I
chose this phrase to begin my remarks this evening because I think it important
not to lose sight of the gravity of these crimes as we deal with the multiple
aspects the Church’s response.
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