Friday, March 10, 2017

“Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation not as a simple option, but as something He wants us to use……When we ignore this sacrament, we ignore Jesus’ command given for our spiritual welfare. And when we ignore His command, we ignore Him.”

Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. -(Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1863)

Gospel Text: (EZ 18:21-28)
Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Our salvation hinges on trusting in God’s mercy. But remember: Mercy means pardon for guilt. Pardon for our guilt can come, by God’s mercy, only if (a) we face and acknowledge our guilt under God, and (b) we are truly sorry for having offended God.

God will not, God cannot, fill with His mercy the life of one who is not truly penitent. Jesus made this clear with His parable of the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Recall that the Pharisee congratulated God and himself on his own good character. In sharp contrast, the tax collector simply groaned, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus said that only the tax collector was reconciled to God.

In all of human history, there apparently has never been a society that so widely ignored—or even widely denied—the reality of sin as has our culture.

We Catholics have largely lost a proper sense of sin, this fact is quite clear, for two reasons: Only a very small percentage of otherwise practicing Catholics regularly choose to receive the Sacrament of Penance. Furthermore, many—should I say “most”?—Catholics who do go to Confession seem to find it hard to be specific in their confessions.

The fact is, our consciences have become calloused. Our consciences have been calloused by the moral and doctrinal confusion created by a large majority of our current culture who reject the Church’s authority. Our consciences are continually being calloused by the moral filth that flows from the media: from our TVs, from our movies, from the books and magazines we read, from the newspapers. In 1982 Pope John Paul warned us that “modern man is threatened by an eclipse of conscience . . . a deformation of conscience . . . a numbness or ‘deadening’ of conscience” (Reconciliation and Penance, no. 18).

Until we draw our last breath, we have to work at growing in our love for our Lord Jesus, growing in our basic desire to please Him in word and thought and deed.

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