“Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:14-15)
With Palm Sunday nearing and Holy Week quickly approaching, I think it's an appropriate time to ask ourselves: How well have I responded to our Lord's call for repentance this Lenten season?
I know I certainly have not responded as well as I could, or should, have. Sadly, I suppose you could say I’m guilty of rending my garments and not my heart!
I think one of the best things we can do to 'rend our hearts' in the remaining days of Lent is to head to confession.
That’s right – the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
Why not make a good examination of conscience and make a thorough, humble, and honest confession before Holy Thursday? There are many excellent examinations of conscience available online and many prayer books also have some kind of examination.
Now I know some of you may say, “I’m not in the state of mortal sin, I don’t need to go to confession!”
Technically, that’s right, but isn’t it the case that any sin – be it mortal or venial - separates us from God? And why would we want to separate ourselves from someone we love, or who loves us so deeply?
Venial sin weakens our charity to others and to God (remember when we sin, we’re offending Christ and
others around us too!), and still results in temporal punishment (translation: that means time in purgatory!). I had once heard a great analogy for venial sins: “a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap." (It may have been St. Augustine who said it, but I can not verify that!) The point is that venial sins add up, and can dispose us to more serious, or mortal, sin.
Regular confession makes us aware of our sins and by the grace we receive from it, it gives us the strength to break our bad habits and grow in virtue. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, regular confession helps to “form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies,” and allows us to be healed by Christ so that we may “progress in the life of the Spirit" (1458).
I’m going to leave you with a thought from St. Augustine, it’s also quoted in the Catechism (1458):
“Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear 'man' - this is what God has made; when you hear sinner' - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made...”