Wet, wash, rinse (repeat, if necessary)…

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St Peter in Penitence

St Peter in Penitence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After getting out of the shower this morning, these words came to me as a reminder of what it takes to get rid of filth.  I remember reading the side of a shampoo bottle that explained how to wash your hair, and seeing these instructions:  Wet, wash, rinse (repeat, if necessary).  I remember asking myself, who needs to be told how to wash their hair?  I also remember asking myself, if your hair didn’t come clean after the first wash, do you really need to be told to repeat, if necessary?  Finally, I remember asking myself, is the shampoo company trying to convince me to wash more than once, so I will use up the shampoo faster?  Ok, so I have issues with instructions.  As I think back to the label of that shampoo, I realize that God was revealing something to me about the Sacrament of Confession, even before I was Catholic.

As I prepare to go to the Sacrament of Confession again tomorrow, I am looking forward to the dipping of my fingers in the bowl of holy water as I enter the church to WET my body, as a reminder of my Sacrament of Baptism.  I also look forward to the WASH of the recollection of my sins and absolution I will receive from the Priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is with joy, that I will dip my fingers into the bowl of holy water on my way out of the church as a RINSE of my soul from the stains of my past sins, in a further remembrance of my Sacrament of Baptism.  However, I will most remember the words, REPEAT, IF NECESSARY, to say that when I fall again, I will be welcomed back into the Confessional to again wash away the filth that I have picked up from my concupiscent self that lives in this fallen world.

This is the formula to combat any sin that we struggle with, but most especially those sins that continue to plague us, even after we have confessed them many times.  I believe it is important for us to remember that everyone, even the Pope uses this formula to fight off the temptation to justify or rationalize sinful behavior, by saying I couldn’t go back to confession to confess the same thing, and maybe it is not as bad as we know it is.  As for Pope Francis, I heard that he has a regularly scheduled appointment for Confession every two weeks and I think if we are being honest with ourselves, we know that we should have an appointment with our Confessor at least that often.  Wet, wash, rinse (repeat, if necessary)

If we accept forgiveness from God, why are we still waiting?

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English: The healing of the paralytic : wall p...

English: The healing of the paralytic : wall painting in the baptistry of the domus ecclesiae in Dura Europos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

 

Reading:  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?  (Luke 5:23)

 

Observation:  If we are truly Christian, we should accept that we are forgiven for our sins by the power of God, who sent his Son to suffer and die in place of the punishment that we deserve for the life that we have lived to this point.   So, now are we waiting like the scribes and Pharisees, who Jesus had to perform the healing of the paralytic man for, to prove that He has the power to forgive sins.  Today, I am asking myself about all the things in my life, that are like the paralytic man, that I am waiting to be healed to prove that Jesus has the power to forgive my sin.  I need to accept my paralysis and redeem it with the power of forgiveness that comes from the grace of God.

 

Personification:  Faithfulness.  The fruit of faithfulness is a great fruit for me to display today to prove to God that I am no longer waiting to see miracles to believe.  How do I show faithfulness, but by being present for the work that God is doing in and through me today.

 

Prayer:  Lord, help me recognize your goodness in everyone I meet today and be a vehicle of your grace to all the ones that you would have me embrace with your love.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

 

 

Repent…Change your heart!

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Prepare the Way of the Lord

Prepare the Way of the Lord (Photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC)

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  He went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  (Luke 3:3)

Observation:  As I read the gospel reading for Mass today, I was thinking about the way that I would pray for the President to repent of the evil that he has put forth in his HHS mandate that forces men and women of good will, in the United States, to violate their consciences.  At the same time, I was thinking that I should pray that we all repent of the evil in our own sinfulness.  By the grace of God, both of these things will be done for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Personification:  Self-Control. Many times when I choose to try to personify the fruit of self-control, I write that I will only be successful if the grace of God saves me from myself.  God’s grace has saved me this morning and I just want to thank Him for it.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for saving me from my flesh and preserving me, by your grace, to follow your will and not my own this morning.  Please continue to shine your light in my darkness and allow me to follow you, Jesus, with the continued intercession of Our Mother Mary, even more closely.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Reject godless ways and worldly desires…

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Gifts of Fear of the Lord and Piety. Fresco No...

Gifts of Fear of the Lord and Piety. Fresco No. 21, Most Holy Trinity Church, Fulnek, Czechia, Europe. Esperanto: Donacoj de Timo antaŭ Dio kaj Pio. Fresko n-ro 21, kirko de la Plej Sankta Triunuo, Fulnek, Ĉeĥujo, Eŭropo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Gift:  Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) – With the gift of wonder and awe (fear of the lord), we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.

 

Reading:  For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:11-14)

 

Observation:  As I read this reading this morning, I was already tormented by thoughts of my sinfulness that I could not shake.  My son came to my rescue on more than one occasion to remind me of the man who God was creating me to be, as a father to my children and a child of God myself.  The truth is, if we are not completely committed to following God in all parts of our life, we will continue to be tempted to fall into sin, when the opportunity to sin presents itself.  This reading reminds me that I must be strong to reject the godless ways that I was raised with, and stay strong against the worldly desires that would consume me, since I have previously accepted some false gods of lust and pride in my life.

 

Personification:  Self-Control.  It is only when I set up all parts of my life to be in union with the will of God, that I know that I will be given the grace to display self-control and overcome any temptation that may present itself.  Rather than linger in this moment of letting my mind wander into my past sinfulness, I choose to make a sincere resolution to convert all parts of my life to following the precepts of God as the church has revealed them to us.

 

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner…Amen!

 

 

The result of sin is death…

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Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading:  “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”  (John 8:51)

Observation:  After reading the Gospel reading for today’s Mass, where Jesus ends up revealing to us, and the Jews that he was speaking to, that “He is God”.  I went back to the beginning of what he said and realized that the truth of His saving power was revealed at their.  If they had only accepted that truth, they could have found the way out of sin into the life that Jesus was trying to reveal to them.  How much are we still like this today?  If we would only accept the truth of what is revealed through His Word, we could have the power to overcome sin in our life, through the grace that comes from following His instructions.

Personification:  Self-Control  It is my hope that I can display the fruit of self-control in my life, not just as it pertains to my tendency towards sin, but also in the way that I deliver the Good News to those that I am blessed by God to get the opportunity to share it with today and everyday for the rest of my life.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to see that your Word is enough for me and that the addition of my words is not necessary to deliver your Gospel truth.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

No justification for sin…

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child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Hol...

child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) – With the gift of wonder and awe (fear of the lord), we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.

Reading:  Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son*always remains.So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. * I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.”   (John 8:34-38)

Observation:  It is this reading this morning that tells me that God has provided the means to avoid sin.  I need only lean on the grace of God to save me, and I will know that it will save me.  The truth is that I will always be a slave to sin, so I better remember what happens when I forget to be a slave to God as well.  It is not a conscience act of the will that allows me to be a slave to sin, but it is a conscience act of the will to be a slave to God.

Personification:  Faithfulness  In order to display the fruit of faithfulness in my life, I must make a deliberate decision to obey the will of God in my life.  If I act as if God is going to do it for me, I will fall prey to my sinfulness.  Exactly what that looks like is explained by Saint Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, I think….Pray without ceasing!  (2 Thessalonians 5:17)

Prayer:  Lord, strengthen your servant to follow your will more closely and supply me with the grace necessary to resist temptation.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

The prodigal returns, again?

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Return of the prodigal son

Image via Wikipedia

Gift:  Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) – With the gift of wonder and awe (fear of the lord), we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.

Reading: Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy,And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities?  (Micah 7:18-19ab)

Observation:  Rather than pick a particular verse from the Gospel reading for today, I am reminded by the story of the prodigal son that every time that I think that I sin, I have taken my inheritance and squandered it, but it only takes my turning back to the Father again, for him to accept me back again.  We serve a merciful God, who knows our tendency to sin and therefore welcomes us back when we realize that it was ridiculous to try to venture out on our own, and we know if we wander again that he will be waiting for our return again.

Personification:   Joy  It is my hope that I can display the fruit of joy that I can imagine the son in Jesus’ story would display on seeing his Father welcome him back home the way that he did.  It is not that hard to imagine that the God who wants me to join myself to his will for eternity, would be overjoyed at seeing my willingness to leave my past sins behind and follow Him.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be more aware of the times that I am willingly asking for my inheritance before it is time for me to receive it, so that I will not wander too far off course.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner…

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The Lord is my Good Shepherd

Image via Wikipedia

Gift:  Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading:  Therefore every loyal person should pray to you in time of distress. Though flood waters* threaten, they will never reach him.d You are my shelter; you guard me from distress; with joyful shouts of deliverance you surround me.  (Psalms 32:6-7)

Observation:  After I woke up this morning already feeling tempted to sin, I read about David‘s sin and my mind started to justify that I am a sinner anyway, so the fact that I fall victim to my sin today would be understandable in the light of David’s sin.  However, as I read the Responsorial Psalm I realized that I should be praying to get rid of the temptation, not succumbing to it.  The fact that the Psalmist here says that the flood waters threaten, but they will never reach us, and the joyful shouts of deliverance surround us.

Personification:  Generosity  In the light of the fact that I am a sinner that has fallen short of the glory of God, I will count on God to show me the way to display the fruit of generosity.  It is clear to me from what others say about me, especially my wife, that I am usually quite generous with my possessions, but I am sure there are ways that God could reveal to me that I could be more giving of my time and talents, as well as my money and possessions.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

O God, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved. (Psalms 80:4)

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English: Scroll of the Psalms

Image via Wikipedia

Gift:  Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading:  When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”  (Mark 3:21)

Observation:  It is hard to believe that Jesus’ relatives would not have believed that He was the Messiah.  They knew His Mother, and they had to know the story of His birth.  I guess it is a testament to how powerful pride can be in the minds of us sinners.  I know that I forget that God has the power to save me sometimes, and I am related to Jesus by my Baptism too.  When I heard the words of the responsorial Psalm this morning at 8:00am Mass at Saint Mary Catholic Church, I realized again that just the appearance of the face of Jesus can save me

Personification:  Joy  Thanks be to God for revealing the truth of His saving power through the responsorial Psalm at Mass today, and in honor of his power and glory, I used the 4th verse of the 80th Psalm as my title for my journal today.  I want to live out the Good News today with joy, because I am secure in the knowledge that God will use whatever means necessary to save us from sin and we only need be open to the prompting of the holy Spirit to act in accordance with His grace.

Prayer:  Lord, help me be joyful today at every move that God makes in my life and realize that it is by the power of the holy Spirit and His grace, that we receive through the sacrifice of Jesus, that we are saved.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

A simple request from a sinner on your way to church today…

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English: Igreja de São Roque: Chapel of Our La...

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Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  Sacrifice and offering you do not want; you opened my ears.  When I sing of your righteousness in a great assembly, See, I do not restrain my lips; as you, LORD, know.  (Psalms 40:7a,10)

Observation:  If you are reading this before you head out for Mass today, I was hoping that the words of the Psalmist would fall on your open ears as they did mine this morning.  The first and second readings, as well as the gospel reading, are beautiful in today’s Mass readings, but I if we do not have open ears to hear them, they will not have any affect.  It is also my hope, for those of us that are seeing this before we go to Mass today, we will read the words of the 10th verse and realize our call to praise God today, and every time we go to Mass with unrestrained lips.

Personification:  Kindness  It is most likely true that some the other fruits of the holy Spirit can flow freely from this one, so I am probably trying to encompass all the others by attempting to display the fruit of kindness.  I do hope that love, joy, peace, patience and gentleness, as well as kindness, can flow through me to everyone that I come in contact with today.

Prayer:  Lord, help this worthless sinner to follow your will for him today.  I know that I have not always followed your will for me, but I want to work only for your grace in my life and the lives of those people who you would use me to bring closer to you.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.