Confessor Got You Down?

Confessor Got You Down?

Lately I’ve been trying to take the advice of some really good mentors.  I’ve been aiming for more regular confession.  Throughout much of my adult life I’ve probably gone to the sacrament on average 6-8 times per year.  In the past few years I’ve gone at least once a month.  In the past few months I’ve stepped it up and have been trying to go once every week or two. Growing up I remember the prevailing notion that was taught to me (using Vatican II as the excuse) that Reconciliation was something to be approached when we were conscious of mortal sin.  The follow-up element in the description of confession that somehow always got dropped was that we can confess our venial sins too and that the there is always a particular grace bestowed in the sacrament to help us in fighting our particular sins.  Those mentors I mentioned?  They are none other than the great saints of our faith and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So in my recent quest to step it up I have been surprised to find myself hearing some unusual things in the confessional.  Hey, I’m not under any seal here… First there was this one: “Are you in the habit of going to confession every week or…?” Well, Father, I’m trying to get into that habit and habits require practice so thanks for lending a hand and playing along.  Should I leave? How about this one? “You know you don’t have to come here so often, right?” Pretty sure I knew that.  What’s your excuse, Father?  Wait, was that too blunt? Finally there was this...
When Catholicism is in Your Bones

When Catholicism is in Your Bones

Since we moved to Minnesota, my family and I have been meeting a lot of converts, many of them my husband’s colleague at the Catholic university where he is a professor. It seems that more of them than not are converts. The other day a distinguished colleague asked my husband, “You are a cradle Catholic, aren’t you?” After my husband assured him that he was, his friend said decidedly, “Then it is in your bones.” Every year I live, I realize more and more how Catholicism really is “in my bones.” There is something about being Catholic from infancy that takes over one’s whole life, and the further one is from one’s conversion to the faith the more time the Catholic sense has had to set in. One of our convert friends, Brantley Milligan, wrote a piece for Alethia about 4 Things that Catholics do that Rightly Scandalize non-Catholics. It seemed to me that his first point on how Catholics don’t talk enough about Jesus missed something genuine about Catholicism. Mr. Milligan says that, “Even among otherwise faithful Catholics, it sometimes seems we can spend a lot of time talking about the Church, the clergy, the Pope, the Mass, moral teachings, the Sacraments, and yes, Mary and the saints – all important things – but hardly ever mention Jesus.” I would disagree and say that by talking about these things, Catholics really are talking about Jesus. At a recent play date with other Catholic moms, they singled me out as the only non-convert in the group. For a moment I agreed and then I looked at the eight children...
A Confession about Confession (A Book Review)

A Confession about Confession (A Book Review)

I have a confession to make.  It’s something I’ve learned about myself over the last couple of years of having children who have reached the age of reason: I’m terrible at going to Confession.  Over that last two years, I have managed to prepare two of my children to receive their first Penance and First Holy Communion. I have made sure that they have attended Mass every Sunday for most of their lives, let alone since receiving these sacraments.  However, I realized recently that I have basically dropped the ball in respect to helping them make frequent use of the sacrament of Confession.  In my efforts to not take over their own relationship with God and tell them when they need to go to Confession, I ended up leaving them with no guidance whatsoever.  Catholic parenting fail, part 1. Realizing our failure in this area, my husband and I decided to make more of an effort to attend the sacrament more regularly.  We’ve been “meaning to” for weeks and finally did this past Saturday.  Unfortunately, when helping the boys prepare, I realized that they had basically forgotten the entire thing.  Catholic parenting fail, part 2.  I panicked for a minute, and then remembered a great little book I just received (for review) the other day.  A Little Book about Confession for Children by Kendra Tierney is a delightful little book that is just as helpful to parents as it is to children.  In attempting to prepare her own son for Confession, Tierney realized that there was more she needed to know to be able to answer his many, many questions,...

Hitting F5 on the Spiritual Life

by Micah Murphy Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about Confession.  It was yet another restart for me, a time of renewal, an opportunity to refresh my spiritual life. If only refreshing our spiritual lives was as easy as pressing F5 on our keyboards to refresh a computer screen! Some Confessions follow venial sins that harm our relationships with God, while others follow mortal sins, even years of them, that have severed us from His good graces.  It can take a long time to right the wrongs we’ve committed and go about putting our own little worlds back the way they should be.  Some saints spent years in penance for past sins, making amends for the great evils they committed.  Already forgiven by God, they still needed to repair the damage they had done to themselves and others. Refreshing the spiritual life involves our penances, and trying to put things right.  For those who’ve been away from the Church, it may include taking some faith formation classes.  For those who haven’t been as devoted to God as they could be, it may include speaking with a trusted and faith-filled friend about prayer, or getting a spiritual director.  For those who struggle with addiction to sins, it may include finding an accountability partner, or asking your spouse to correct steer you away from the things that you need to avoid. For me, hitting F5 on the spiritual life includes a spiritual renewal, a renewed attempt to reach out to God frequently in prayer, and the assistance of a trusted spiritual director. [poll id=”3″] Do you have another way of...

Psalm 51

After reading Micah’s post on Reconciliation, and how spiritually cleansing it is, I thought I would share the famous Psalm of Repentance. Psalm 51 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. Before going to confession, I usually read through this psalm and reflect on my own need for spiritual mercy from the Triune God. “1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach...