Monday, March 17, 2008

Here is one of the saddest things to hear (as a priest) in the confessional. “Oh, I don’t really have any sins. I try to be good. I pray every day and try to be nice to people.”

I usually respond, “That’s amazing. I sinned five times on my walk from the rectory to the church.”

Why is this sad? Not because sin should not be avoided at all costs, but because we all sin. Scripture says, “He who says he is without sin calls God a liar.” If someone is in the confessional that means that he buys Scripture, the sacraments, and the Church. To come in (after a year or even twenty) and say that you have not sinned basically says that you do not need Christ.

Now, Okay, that was harsh. What it really means is that the person is not very reflective. It takes very little probing even with an eighty-year-old, home bound paraplegic to find some weak spots in that spotless armor. But why focus on sin? Because whatever is weak when you give it to God it is made strong. But that can only happen in the realization and offering of that weakness.

Julian of Norwich puts it this way: What happens when you sin? That is, what happens when you know you have sinned and know how it damages you, your neighbor, and your relationship with God? What happens when you do not decide to blow it off? First, contrition enters in. With contrition comes extra prayer and longing to make things right with God and neighbor. This desire leads to a change of life or at least a stab at it. Finally it brings you to the sacrament where you encounter God and are touched directly by Him allowing Him to take your stain and transform it into a badge of honor. But that cannot be done unless we first honestly recognize, name, take ownership, have contrition, make amends, and work at changing our lives.

ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ: Once again, I am so sorry about this. Just put up with me today and I’ll try not to do it again. I must say, you guys are good!

1. To what Lenten song does this picture refer? "Lord, Who Threw Out These Forty Days?" (Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days) To which Fr. W always responds, "Nobody, they are still here."

2. The picture below refers to the third verse of that same song. "As You did hunger bear and thirst . . ."

3. The old time Lenten hymn to which this picture refers is, *sigh* "Shirly, the Cross Eyed Bear" or rather "Surely the Cross I'd Bear." Fr. W. thinks it should have been Gladly the Cross . . . but it still works.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

reply to "I am so sorry about this. Just put up with me today and I'll try not to do it again."

Actually, you'd better do it again - it was fun (as I roll my eyes & shake my head at the answers!) LOL

Anonymous said...

On Confession (You know that's one of my favorie topics... ;)

I recently came across something that discussed how to handle temptations. He observed that most people fall into their sin through trying to fight the temptations. When they do this, they are setting themselves up for failure because they are relying on themselves to fight that battle. He explained that when we are tempted, we should NAME the temptation, and immediately give it to God to fight, admit we can't fight it ourselves and ask Him to take it away. works! I've done this a few times, and while the temptation doesn't go away instantly, my entire mindset towards it is different.

And of course, the scary thing is that once the big temptations are out of the way and you start doing this start to recognize the "smaller" things, the ones that led up to the bigger ones.

I think I've already sinned a few times just since I got up this morning..actually...I KNOW I have. It is sad that people don't recognize they sin, especially when it's a big glaring thing in their life. In my observtion, the people who claim they haven't sinned tend to be's not a sin unless they think it is. And some of these people don't MEAN to be relativists, it's just all they know and they've been taught that critical thought is anathema unless they are critically thinking with the secular majority.

Sorry, little rant there.

And the bear stuff...LOL! That's just....wrong. :-P

Adoro said...

OK, now you've done it. I just wrote a parody thanks to your post on this stuff.

Humor during Holy Week. Can you IMAGINE?

Anonymous said...

I can't remember the last time I heard about sin, and the need for confession, from the podium. I think we must hear it locally, or we'll not take it as seriously as we should. The RCIA folks hear more about it than do we. They hear so much, they are eager to go to confession!

We have to remember that one or two generations are rather undercatechized.. One of our parishes puts out copies of an Examen on a little table for those who come to confession, but those who don't come, don't see it.. maybe it should be in the bulletin, and as an insert during Lent.

That being said, there were 5 times as many pentitents awaiting confession (and absolution!) this past week at the church I go to for confession. Thrilling! And whenever that happens, and if one can tell that someone there is in a raging hurry, what a thrill of an extra grace to let them go before you.

But even if there are only 4 others, what cause for joy there is, and how catholic it is to know why we're all there, and what we'll go away with in our freed hearts. And hundreds will turn out for reconciliation services.. and those who do, usually avail themselves of individual confession, too.

All is not well, but I hear there are thousands upon thousands of new communicants coming into our midst this Easter vigil here in the States (and how many more the world over?), and it is good. It is good!

Anonymous said...

Father, one of these days you should post us a link to what you consider to be a good exam of conscience.

Anonymous said...

I always hate when I'm examining my conscience, but can only think of 5 or 6 sins. I know that there are many more sins that need to be added to my list, but I can't recall them. I make sure to tell that to the priest when I'm in confession. I feel I'm being more honest when I say that.

I'm sure if I went to confession more often this would change, but that's going to be a gradual process for me.