Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Devotion for today: One small fall, one step toward a higher degree of perfection

Whenever you feel guilty, even if it is because you have consciously committed a sin, a serious sin, something you have kept doing many times, never let the devil deceive you by allowing him to discourage you. My beloved, may every fall…always become for us a small step toward a higher degree of perfection.  Maximilian Kolbe.

I am reading a very challenging book entitled, “Unbound” by Neal Lozano. In it he takes the reader deep into his soul to pull out, by the roots, the source of the sins we habitually commit due to patterns of behavior we developed as events in our lives hurt or scared or scarred us. It is fascinating to rediscover the patterns which govern our adult lives. Why are we so addicted to gossip? Why do we live in fear of being discovered for the “frauds” we think we are? Why are we always feeling sorry for ourselves, or looking to be offended, or constantly battling anger, resentment, self-importance, desires for revenge, tendencies toward unforgiveness, or a need to control everyone in our lives? Well, I can only say the book has changed my life, but it isn’t easy. I have come to realize how special I am to God, how much He loves me, and how He really did have a dream for my life when He placed me in my mother’s womb. But life has had its way of changing my path and because of events which made me vulnerable to following ways which were not God’s ways, I changed my path from the one He formed for me to one that led me away from the profound reality of who I am. In truth, we have all done this to a degree. We can all say that we have trouble totally realizing the amazing love God has for us and tapping daily into that love. It is something we all crave, yet we shy away from claiming it. Maybe we don’t really believe in it; maybe we feel unworthy; maybe we never experienced unconditional love before. Well, it is never too late to start. The first way anyone can do this, besides reading this book, is to do some real soul searching and list those emotions and patterns of behavior that rule our lives and cause us to feel dark and sad rather than light and joyful. They are not from God, and like weeds in a garden, should be pulled out, confessed, and thrown away for good. God will fill the empty spaces with His love and grace and we will walk in the light of a new life. So, we will begin today to look at the very Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation. It is not at all what many people think, nor will you find any real understanding of it in the secular world. You will only discover its true value in the Word of God. We begin today by simple looking at a few Scripture passages, and the explanation of the sacrament found in the Catechism.

1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1422 "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense 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 labors for their conversion."
1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. 1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."
It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the life of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call:  “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”

Act of Hope: O my God, trusting in your promises and because you are faithful, powerful and merciful, I hope, through the merits of Jesus Christ, for the pardon of my sins, final perseverance and the blessed glory of heaven. Amen!

No comments: