The Season of Lent begins with a significant passage taken from the Book of Genesis (2:7-9, 3:1-7), “the Fall.” The entrance of sin into creation, which is the cause of the fall, is truly real. Its’ origin is called “original sin” and its continued manifestation is called “actual sin.” One who dismisses original sin also does the same of actual sin. The choices that we make in our lives can either lead us on a path of destruction or, through God’s grace, to redemption.
The grace of the Sacrament of Baptism washes away “original sin” to a new birth of innocence. The grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation cleanses us of actual sin so that we can begin life anew.
At a minimum, all Catholics are required to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation once each year. Often this happens during the Season of Lent. Catholics are also required to participate in this Sacrament when they have committed a serious sin (sometimes called “mortal sin”) which is a violation of a commandment. There are 2 “tools” which we use in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; an Examination of Conscience (to prepare us before we celebrate the sacrament) and an Act of Contrition which the priest will ask you to make at the conclusion of the confession of your sins.
An Examination of Conscience:
- I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
Have I treated people, events, or things as more important than God?
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people?
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
Do I go to Mass every Sunday (or Saturday Vigil) and on Holy Days of Obligation? Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body? Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday?
- Honor your father and your mother.
Do I show my parents due respect? Do I seek to maintain good communication with my parents where possible? Do I criticize them for lacking skills I think they should have?
- You shall not kill.
Have I harmed another through physical, verbal, or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind?
- You shall not commit adultery.
Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself?
- You shall not steal.
Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another?
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another?
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love?
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I compare myself to others unnecessarily?
- Christ’s Commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
How well do we love God and others?
An Act of Contrition:
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to sin no more, to do penance, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, My God, have mercy.
I hope that these tools will be helpful for you not only during these days of Lent, but also in our daily life.
Thank you to all who have thus far participated in the annual diocesan Our Catholic Appeal. Our parish assessment this year is $278,146 and to date, 794 households have pledged $238,023.25 toward this assessment, leaving us $40,122.75 and 206 households to meet this goal.
I will soon begin to share some early pledge numbers in regard to our own parish campaign, Project HOPE: Helping our Parish Expand. I know that our goal of raising between $3-4 million is ambitious but is surely possible with the Lord’s blessing!
May our observance of Lent, with chosen acts of sacrifice, penance, and charity, make pure our minds and fill our hearts with joy! By our participation in these holy mysteries bring us the fullness of life and grace!