How I lessened the burden of guilt… #Lent Season

http://www.mypocketfulofthoughts.com/2013/03/how-i-lessened-burden-of-guilt-lent.html#When I was studying for my Confirmation, I remember Sister Alta Gracia telling me to prepare for Confession. I cringed. Participating in the Sacrament of Confession, you tell the priest your sins. If I had done it when I was preparing for Holy Communion, I was so young I didn’t recall it. What I would confess to a priest at age 8 is very different than what I would confess at age 28. I had 20 years to rack up a long list. Can you blame me for cringing?

During the lent season, the church schedules more time set aside for confessions. I had set up a time with my priest and I sat patiently waiting. I wrote down every possible thing I could remember over that twenty year span that broke one of the ten commandments. I had three pages worth of things. I clutched that paper with dear life. I remember calling Daniel just before and told him how nervous I was. He assured me everything would be fine.

photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via photopin cc

The closer my turn got the more nervous I became. Who wants to confess the things that go against God? Then another visiting priest was taking on confessions in the Church Rectory. I kind of liked the idea of being confessed by someone who didn’t know me well. When I went into the sitting room, I realized that it was going to be a face to face confession. All I could think was where is the booth so the priest doesn’t see me and I don’t see him? The priest was patient, I followed the guide and when it was time to confess, I read off my list. Tears burned my eyes as I recalled some of the things on the list and then the next thing I knew I was sobbing hysterically. The priest grabbed a box of tissue and he remained patient. I finished my list and waited. He told me the parable of the Prodigal Son.

    Luke 15:10-32

    10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother

    11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

    25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The priest explained the importance of going to confession frequently. The longer the period of time we go between confessions, the more likely we are to be tempted. Life is full of temptations, whether we are aware of it or not. During this Sacrament of Confession the Priest is a representative for God. When we confess to a Priest, we are confessing to God. When a Priest absolves our sins, it is God who is absolving our sins. At the end of my first confession, I had no idea how much guilt I had been carrying around. I felt my burdens lighten. I forgave myself. I felt a weight lifted.

When we carry around the weight of the things we regret in life, it slowly changes us. We’re able to move forward because we have no choice but eventually those changes start to show on the outside. I now go more frequently, I find it keeps me on my path. I am human and I am far from perfect. I fall, dust myself off and get back up. It’s comforting to know that Confession is available to help me reflect on my life, to aim to do better and to be in God’s good graces.

Here is today’s reading:

English Version


If something of your past is weighing on you, forgive yourself. God loves you, I love you and I ask you to pass it on!

Until then,

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What am I giving up for Lent?

It seems to be that time of year again. I’ve been thinking these last couple of days about what I might give up for Lent this year. Everything I think of does not seem to be enough though. Jesus gave his life so that we would be saved. What sacrifice can compare?


Lent is a religious observance by various Christian denominations, including Catholics. It lasts a period of forty days and forty nights that lead up to Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is the official first day. “…The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ…” Wikipedia

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This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 13th. The day begins with a special Mass where we receive ashes on the forehead. The priest marks each person‘s forehead with the sign of the cross, using the ashes of the Palms from the prior year’s Palm Sunday celebration. He says the words, “Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”

We use this time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and to remember that we are saved because of him. Do we follow in his footsteps? Do we follow the ten commandments? Have we gone to confession? We also follow other traditional observances like fasting. On Fridays, during Lent, Catholics do not eat from sun up to sundown and abstain from eating meat.  Lastly, we give up something we consider to be a sacrifice. We know that nothing could ever compare to Jesus’ sacrifice but we attempt to do it all the same.

This Lenten season I will be giving up:
  1. Chocolate Bars
  2. Coffee
  3. Shopping of Unnecessary Purchase  

Do you observe Lent? What are you giving up?

Here is Today’s Second Reading: 

English Translation

  

 Until then,

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The Lord works in Mysterious ways…

Image borrowed from http://www.infobarrel.com

We hear that all the time, right?  The Lord works in mysterious ways.  While we believe this in blind faith, on occasion we are pleasantly surprised when we’re reminded of that by getting a letter in the mail.  These past months I’ve been focusing hard on paying down my debt and trying to find creative ways to do it faster.  I always ask the Lord to guide me, to keep my on the right path.  This past week I’ve been trying to find online, the dates and ending dates of balance transfers I put a while back on my credit cards.  Interestingly enough, I could not find this information anywhere. I looked back to the initial statement issued when the balance transfer began, but no information on when it would end.  I delayed starting any new balance transfers until I knew for sure the promotional period was over.  I even tried to search my inbox hoping the promotional email had been saved.  Nothing.  So Wednesday, I decided to just make the balance transfer when I got home.  Of course when I got home I was exhausted so I decided to put it off for Thursday.

On Thursday morning I opened my mail and I received a letter from one of my credit card companies.  I read it twice because I could not believe what I was reading.  It said:

We have extended the length of your promotional Annual Percent Rate (APR) on your balance transfer that took place on 08/10/11.  We also want to inform you why we made this change and how it affects your account.

Information about your balance transfer.

When you transferred a balance to your &*$%# credit card, you were given a choice between two promotional offers.  These offers were for two different promotional APRs, which would last for different lengths of time.  Since the date of your balance transfer, the lower of those two APRs ~ 0% ~ has been applied to your transferred balance.

A change has been made to your account.

In reviewing your account, we could not determine with certainty which promotional offer terms you originally selected.  We are now providing you with better terms than we gave you in our promotional offers.  We have applied the lower of the two APRs for the longest length of time that was offered in the original promotion.  For you, that means we have extended your promotional APR of 0% through your billing cycle that ends in 1/2013…..

We are continually working to improve the service we provide to our customers.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you…..
I knew for a fact that I had selected the 0% option but I knew that it was not for a long period of time.  I figured that it would motivate me to pay it off faster.  Now I do not have to worry about trying to get yet another balance transfer offer.  If you have ever done this, you might recall how difficult it is to get done sometimes.  I won’t bore you with that today.
Since I had been given a sign, I felt it only right to share the news I learned on Friday.  Friday nights I help run a Youth Group Meeting at my Church.  Most often than not I feel that I am a participant, a catechist learning something new.  This week we learned about Lent, since we are in the Lent Season.
Lent is the penitential season of approximately 40 days aside from the Church in order for the faithful to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, by works of penance, that is, prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is actually forty-six days before Easter.  We say that Lent is forty days in number because the six Sundays are excluded from the rigors of Lent in order to afford the faithful a time to pause and rejuvenate.  The number of forty is found frequently in scripture to signify either a time of penitential preparation….

For the Lent Season, we are challenged to make individual sacrifices appropriate to our own spiritual condition.  Before we choose something to give up for Lent, it’s important to assess our current spiritual state:  What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?  To what material things am I too attached?  What areas in my life are unbalanced?  To what do I devote too much or not enough time?
My niece picked out what I was giving up for Lent.  Shopping.  I admit freely that I do find myself attached to wanting to buy material things.  If you saw my bedroom right now you’d agree.  I was reluctant to do so, but only mainly because I had given up the month of February to not by anything that was unnecessary ( #NoUnnecessarySpendingFebruary).  I had done so well.  Even returned an item bring my total a -$59.03.  The end of February was coming so close and I could see myself buying something as my reward for going a whole 29 days without shopping.  To what material things am I too attached?  Shopping.  Another 40 days of not shopping.  I am ok with that, Jesus went through so much for us.  Died for us.  As much as I want to buy every single thing that comes out this spring, it’ll wait.  He DIED for us.  It can all wait!  I hope that I have the willpower to go the whole 46 days.  I like the fact though, that the six Sundays are excluded….in order to afford the faithful a time to pause and rejuvenate…to have a min easter.
I hope we are all well today, on this Soulful Sunday!  May we all stay strong in our faith, reflect on our spiritual lives this Lent Season and to continue to walk in His path.
Until then,
PS: To my niece, Ariana, who so willingly gave up soda (which she loves) as her sacrifice for Lent, Sunday’s are excluded :)
Resources: The above bold italic was taken from slides and pamphlets given by:  St George Catholic Church, 443 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT www.iveamerica.org; and Sisters Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara of 153 Linden Ave.  Bridgeport, Ct www.ssvmusa.org.