The Pursuit Of Holiness – Where Do Blogs Fit in?

During Advent, we are looking at getting our house in order in preparation of the Nativity of our Lord.  We began this discussion speaking on the importance of going to confession here, then we moved on to how to select a good confessor which you can read here.  Today, we are going to talk about Holiness and how blogs and media in general can help us, or hurt us in our pursuit of sanctity.

As we are getting back to the basics here, let us remember that the point of frequent confession, frequent communion and much prayer is so that we can draw closer to God.  It is easy to forget the purpose amidst the actions we take to attain to that end.  The pursuit of God is what we are called to do and the way to that is through being set apart: Holiness.

If we think of our soul as a garden, a very special and tender garden, it will greatly aid us in our discussion on media and in blogs particularly.  The analogy of the garden is used by scripture and Christ Himself, and many of the saints so it is an apt description of our souls.  If the very purpose of our entire existence is to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next, then we need to truly understand what it means to  know, love and serve him and how our actions either bring us towards this goal, or draw us away from it.

With this being the framework of our discussion, let us get into some particular details.

The idea of being set apart isn’t so foreign to use as we might imagine.   We have many items that we set apart from common use within the church and home (Candles, Water, Salt, Crucifixes, Scapulars, Statues, Buildings, Altars, etc) and those items were made by specific actions from priest.  Another example we can use is for those of who are married, our marriage sets us apart from the rest of the population in that we are “reserved” for each other.  Religious servants of God (both male and female) take vows and set themselves apart and the list goes on and on.

In one way, we as Catholics share in this holiness in our Baptism as we have “put on Christ” and we have been made Holy.  Saint Paul, in First Corinthians Chapter 6 verse 19 says, “Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own?” As such, we have been set apart from the world and we have a duty to not only keep this holiness but to further it along by cooperating with the Spirit of God.  We have received Baptismal grace and our obligation is to maintain that grace, work with it, so that we achieve the end for which we labor, namely, God Himself.

So what does all of this have to do with blogs?  Well, we have received grace into our souls at our Baptism,  we work with that grace by going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, and practicing our Faith. We go to great lengths to become holy yet we often allow things into our lives that promote a contrary nature to holiness.  Media, more often than not, hurts our souls more than it helps it and blogs, in general, are not good for souls well being.

There, I said it.  Blogs, in general hurt our souls.  How so you may ask?  That is easy enough to explain.  Since you are reading this blog post, I can make a few assumptions.

First, you are seeking out traditional Catholicism.

Second, you are trying to learn more to deepen your faith on traditional Catholicism.

Three, you like to read about what is going on in the church.

Now, in both the first and the second instance, the reading of “SOME” blogs can actually help awaken our souls and, by the grace of God, give us understanding in areas in which we didn’t have light before.

But, the third instance, is where we get into trouble.   Frankly, we, as humans, like to have others validate our beliefs.  We like to read that “other people think the same way” and that “I’m right and they are wrong” and “look at what Pope Francis did this time” and “the world is coming to and end because of this prophecy matches up perfectly” and I can go on but I think the point has been made.

If our souls are a garden, the type of information we allow into that garden is going to have to be sifted.  Junk in, junk out and if we are constantly sifting “junk” then how in the world are we going to have the time to be quiet, sit still, and allow our Beloved Gardener into our garden to do the work of pruning that is so necessary?

To grow in sanctity we have to be set apart and that includes shielding ourselves from a constant stream of media.  How can our minds and our souls be set apart if we are constantly feeding it information that isn’t helping us?  Tell me what good does it do to my soul to know the latest thing that Pope Francis said or did?  Do I really need any further confirmation that things are bad in the church?  All of this, is just distractions and as such, they are removing our focus from becoming holy.   We are not able to hear the voice of Our Beloved when our minds are constantly filled with the world, the things of the world and even the problems within the church today.

We have been called to be holy in our Baptism.  We are called to maintain our holiness now and to grow in holiness and we need to take this very seriously.  During this advent, consider what you are allowing into your garden. Consider the books you read, the blogs you read, the movies you watch, the constant stream of text messages you receive, the non-stop emailing, and consider the effect it is having on your soul and consider too, if this is causing you to lose sight of simply being set apart for God and for His use alone.

We should be very thankful that the church has provided us with Advent so that we can think about these things and prepare our souls for the Nativity of Our Lord.  As the Lord came forth from the Spotless, Pure and Immaculate Mary, let us call upon Our Blessed Mother to aid us in our pursuit of holiness.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen

 

 

An Advent Reflection – Michael Matt

Editor’s Note: Each year around Christmastime we post this short, personal Christmas reflection which offers an alternative custom to the celebration of the great Feast. I wrote it some years ago, and every year since I receive email from new visitors to this site gently chastising The Remnant for not posting it earlier in Advent so as to allow time for families to adopt as their own some of the customs herein suggested. Over the years many Catholic families have adopted the old Christ Child tradition, believing it to be a beautiful means of restoring the true meaning of Christmas while strengthening Catholic identity in children. And it can be gradually implemented, of course. Out of respect for her childhood tradition, my wife and I still invite Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) to visit our home on Christmas morning but in a dramatically reduced capacity, perhaps leaving a few stocking stuffers above the mantle and moving on. Christmas is all about midnight and Christmas Eve and the Christ Child. And a truly happy, holy and merry Christmas remains forever predicated on careful observance of Advent. No Christmas trees, no lights, no good things to eat until December 25, when the time of waiting comes to an end and all of Christendom rejoices over an event so magnificent even a two-year-old will never forget it. Christ is to be born–and the world, the flesh and the Devil will never change that reality, no matter how hard they try. Happy Holidays?  Yeah, right! A fruitful Advent to all visitors to this site. MJM

This will be the fourth Christmas since my father passed away.  I suppose everyone misses deceased family members most this time of year; I know I do.  My father loved Christmas! I sometimes wonder, in fact, what impact his larger-than-life celebrations of the birth of Christ had on the faith of his nine children, each of whom continues to practice the old Faith to this day.  He believed that, just as Advent—the “mini-Lent”—was to be kept well, with plenty of spiritual and corporal works of mercy, so too should Christmas be fêted with all the merrymaking and gusto a Catholic family can muster

He knew that children are not born theologians who can grasp the intricacies of the great mysteries of Faith at an early age.  The Faith needed to be lovingly spoon-fed to them, and so the childlike customs of Christmas were for him tailor-made to  instill  love for the Faith before children were old enough to even begin to understand it.

What a shame it is, then, to see well-meaning traditional Catholic parents discarding those customs altogether in a misguided effort to counter the commercialization of Christmas.  No gift giving, no merry making, no feasting on Christmas. Alas, the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

In a dreary world where pessimism and cynicism—rather than righteousness and peace—have kissed each other, we must guard against robbing our children of the wonder and joy of Christmas— the seedbed for a child’s Faith.

Our poor children may live long enough to see Christmas outlawed altogether in our brave new world, even as it was once before by the Pilgrims who invented Thanksgiving out of contempt for the “popish” feast of Christmas.   Anti-Catholics have long sought to destroy our great Feast, which is why we must be certain that in our eagerness to oppose the commercialization of Christmas, we don’t become Puritanical agents working towards the same diabolical end!

Many Catholics oppose the custom of Santa Claus—that somewhat off-putting caricature of the great St. Nicholas.  Admittedly, the red suit, the corpulent figure and the stocking cap bare strikingly slim resemblance to the 4th century bishop of Myra; and the flying sleigh and reindeer are more reminiscent of pagan myth than Christian Truth. But few have thought to provide a good alternative to the jolly old elf. So I’d like to offer one now by reintroducing readers to the old Catholic Christmas custom that the Germans called Christkind, or Christ Child, and that American children of European immigrants would call, simply, the Baby Jesus.  Here is what I remember…

Looking Back

It all began in Advent, when my seven sisters and brother were expected to prepare for the coming of Christkind (pronounced Kris-Kint).  Under Mother’s watchful eye, we’d fashion a small, makeshift manger that would remain unoccupied until Christmas Day. As Advent progressed, good deeds were encouraged on a daily basis; and each time it was determined that a good deed had been done, one piece of straw was placed in the empty manger, the idea being that Advent was a time to prepare a bed on which the Baby Jesus could sleep when He arrived.  Under the rules of the old custom, the practice of virtue was an essential part of a child’s preparation for Christmas.

Each night after supper, the lights would be turned down while Advent Wreath candles were lit. The haunting strains of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel would be lifted (somewhat awkwardly, I suppose) on the voices of children.  Shadows and flickering flames played on faces across the dining room table, making it easy for a child to imagine that he sat with the Israelites of old waiting for the Messiah to come.

As the four weeks passed seemingly as slowly as those four thousand years, one question became constant: “Have my sacrifices been enough to please Christkind?” And thus the weeks of Advent were spent in preparation and waiting…as they should be.

Gradually, the empty manger would fill with straw as the stage was set for a celestial Visitor.  On the evening of December 23rd, my father would hang a curtain over the doorway of our living room, which, if that straw was piled high enough, was to be transformed into the “Christmas room” by the Baby Jesus Himself in the middle of the night.

Then, it was off to sleep, a seemingly impossible prospect.

The Christmas Eve mornings I remember are marked by a combination of joy and wonder. Children still in their “jammies” could scarcely whisper the words to a curiously exhausted mother: “Did He come?”

All day long, we weren’t allowed to go near the curtain, lest one of us should succumb to the temptation to “peek”, which would be to risk the instant disappearance of whatever Christkind may have brought. A lifetime of self-discipline was taught between dawn and dusk on Christmas Eve.

After a day of chores, naps, and helping with the house cleaning, the anticipated hour of 7 o’clock would finally arrive.  We’d gather in the back room and sing Christmas carols in candlelight as our mother would read aloud the story that always began the same way: “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…”  We listened as Father disappeared into the “Christmas room” to take down the curtain and see to the final arrangements for the holy ritual.  Only he was worthy to “take over” for Christkind. The wait seemed interminable. Then, all at once, his voice would call out from the darkness: “Come children, Christkind has come.”

Breathlessly, we’d make our candle-lit procession from the back room to the living room, singing the words of the old German carol as we went:  Ihr Kinderlein, kommet, O kommet doch all! Zur Krippe her kommet in Bethlehems Stall.

We’d gather ‘round my father, who now was kneeling in front of the nativity scene.  We’d do our best not to crane our necks and look at the darkened Christmas tree or whatever might be lying beneath it. Each child placed a crib figure into the crèche, and the youngest put the Baby in His manger.  Then, prayers were said, Christmas carols were quietly sung, deceased family were remembered, and Father spoke of the marvelous thing that had happened long ago “at midnight in Bethlehem in piercing cold.”

I can still see the cast of Bethlehem bathed in a warm, peaceful glow, seeming as real to me as if I were a shepherd  boy looking down from that hillside over Bethlehem. I can hear my father and mother’s hushed voices as they prayed and sang to the same royal Baby that shepherds and angels had adored centuries ago.  That sacred moment was like a porthole in time, where traveling back to the city of David just then seemed not only possible to a child, but imminent.

Those long ago Christmas Eves remain vivid in my memory, thirty-five years later.  And the gifts under the tree?  I don’t remember many of them.  There was no question what Christmas was about—we could feel it in the depths of our young souls; we could see it in the tears that formed in our father’s eyes as he prayed aloud; we could hear it in our mother’s voice as she sang softly—silent night, holy night, all is calm.

Christmas was about the Baby, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels and Bethlehem.  It was something so powerful that it could even cause our father’s voice to tremor in the darkness as he explained Who the Baby is and what He expects of us.  We knew that Christkind was real because our father and mother were kneeling on the floor before the manger… praying to Him.

Moments later, the magic of Christmas—the feast, the Catholic family celebration—burst forth in jubilation. The majestic tree was lit; there was singing and dancing; bowls of nuts and candies, specially delivered by the Baby Jesus Himself, seemed to appear out of nowhere.  And there, under the tree were the gifts, the second-to-last phase of the ritual.  He’d come.  He’d brought little rewards for Advent efforts.  The family was together, united in love for each other and a Child King we cherished with all our hearts.

You must understand, my parents had no money.  And yet, somehow, Christmas came, year after year, and it was fit for a King!  That was part of the miracle. But this was just the beginning.  The toys and good things to eat were set aside to be enjoyed on each and every one of the twelve days of Christmas. Now, the soul of Christmas Eve was about to be celebrated.

Coats and hats, mittens and scarves were the next order of business.  The old station wagon groaned in the frosty night air as Father turned the key in the ignition.  Nine children were loaded up, and, moments later, the little ones peered through frosted glass in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Bethlehem’s star on the way to Midnight Mass.

It would be Christmas Day before this night would draw to a peaceful close in a dimly-lit church filled with the scent of pine needles and candle wax and incense.  Not long before the first light of Christmas Day glowed in the East, sleepy children would crawl into chilly beds as content as ever a child could be this side of Heaven’s gate.  And, why not!  Christ is born!

And So It Continues…

The years have passed by so quickly since those childhood days that I can scarcely believe that the five little ones who process into my living room each Christmas Eve are my own, that my beloved  father and one sister are no longer with us, and that the rest of us have aged more than we care to admit.  But, strangely enough, the Baby Jesus remains unchanged and unchanging.  Ever young, ever new, He’s the same now as He was then.  My children’s imaginations are as captivated by Him now as mine was then.  Life is moving on, but somehow Christmas is the one thing that stays the same.

Needless to say, His midnight visit on Christmas Eve is the highpoint of the year for my children.  Why?  Because, as I see it, this old European Christmas custom is profoundly Catholic. There is nothing plastic-banana or phony-baloney about it! Children are neither taught to equate Christmas with wicked consumerism or Godless Puritanism.  They are taught the mystery of the birth of Christ and the importance of celebrating the Feast. Advent is a most  essential part of the process, even as Midnight Mass is its climax.

Even now, my own children—walking in the footsteps of their little Catholic counterparts from the old world—are trading daily acts of kindness and virtue for little pieces of straw that are lovingly tucked away into an empty manger. For one night soon the Child of Bethlehem will transform their home and their souls into a place fit for a King.  For a few miraculous moments, life will stand perfectly still and the line between the physical world and the spiritual one will become mercifully obscured.

Christkind creates in children an indissoluble bond between the joy of Christmas—which celebrates His birth—and the Catholic Faith itself which is His greatest gift.  In real Christmas cheer the two become one, and the proper celebration of the Holy Day plants seeds of Faith in the little garden of children’s souls even as they shout for joy.  As they grow older, their faith in Christkind transforms itself naturally into belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament—the true meaning of Christmas.

There is no deceit in the Christkind custom, for, indeed, there is no deceit in the Christkind. He does come down to earth on Christmas Eve; His providence provides everything we need in this life; and He exists just as surely as we do.  He was born, He has a mother whom we all know and love, and He comes to us often at Mass—Christ’s Mass.  He comes to us at Christmas.  Has fallen man ever had more reason for Feast or feasting than this?  Let us be glad and rejoice.  Merry Christmas to one and all!  Christ is born!

May the grace of Christkind be with all the readers of The Remnant this Christmas, and may He bless one and all with a happy and holy New Year!

Found Online in the Remnant Archives Here

 

Advent – A Primer

According to present [1907] usage, Advent is a period beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (30 November) and embracing four Sundays. The first Sunday may be as early as 27 November, and then Advent has twenty-eight days, or as late as 3 December, giving the season only twenty-one days.

With Advent the ecclesiastical year begins in the Western churches. During this time the faithful are admonished

  • to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
  • thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
  • thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

SYMBOLISM

To attain this object the Church has arranged the Liturgy for this season. In the official prayer, the Breviary, she calls upon her ministers, in the Invitatory for Matins, to adore “the Lord the King that is to come”, “the Lord already near”, “Him Whose glory will be seen on the morrow”. As Lessons for the first Nocturn she prescribes chapters from the prophet Isaias, who speaks in scathing terms of the ingratitude of the house of Israel, the chosen children who had forsaken and forgotten their Father; who tells of the Man of Sorrows stricken for the sins of His people; who describes accurately the passion and death of the coming Saviour and His final glory; who announces the gathering of the Gentiles to the Holy Hill. In the second Nocturn the Lessons on three Sundays are taken from the eighth homily of Pope St. Leo (440-461) on fasting and almsdeeds as a preparation for the advent of the Lord, and on one Sunday (the second) from St. Jerome’s commentary on Isaias 11:1, which text he interprets of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “the rod out of the root of Jesse”. In the hymns of the season we find praise for the coming of Christ, the Creator of the universe, as Redeemer, combined with prayer to the coming judge of the world to protect us from the enemy. Similar ideas are expressed in the antiphons for the Magnificat on the last seven days before the Vigil of the Nativity. In them, the Church calls on the Divine Wisdom to teach us the way of prudence; on the Key of David to free us from bondage; on the Rising Sun to illuminate us sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, etc. In the Masses the intention of the Church is shown in the choice of the Epistles and Gospels. In the Epistle she exhorts the faithful that, since the Redeemer is nearer, they should cast aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; should walk honestly, as in the day, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ; she shows that the nations are called to praise the name of the Lord; she asks them to rejoice in the nearness of the Lord, so that the price of God, which surpasses all understanding, may keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; she admonishes them not to pass judgment, for the Lord, when He comes, will manifest the secrets hidden in hearts. In the Gospels the Church speaks of the Lord coming in glory; of Him in, and through, Whom the prophecies are being fulfilled; of the Eternal walking in the midst of the Jews; of the voice in the desert, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”. The Church in her Liturgy takes us in spirit back to the time before the incarnation of the Son of God, as though it were really yet to take place. Cardinal Wiseman says:

We are not dryly exhorted to profit by that blessed event, but we are daily made to sigh with the Fathers of old, “Send down the dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened, and bud forth the Redeemer.” The Collects on three of the four Sundays of that season begin with the words, “Lord, raise up thy power and come” — as though we feared our iniquities would prevent His being born.

DURATION AND RITUAL

On every day of Advent the Office and Mass of the Sunday or Feria must be said, or at least a Commemoration must be made of them, no matter what grade of feast occurs. In the Divine Office the Te Deum, the joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving, is omitted; in the Mass the Gloria in excelsis is not said. TheAlleluia, however, is retained. During this time the solemnization of matrimony (Nuptial Mass and Benediction) cannot take place; which prohibition binds to the feast of Epiphany inclusively. The celebrant and sacred ministers use violet vestments. The deacon and subdeacon at Mass, in place of the dalmatics commonly used, wear folded chasubles. The subdeacon removes his during the reading of the Epistle, and the deacon exchanges his for another, or for a wider stole, worn over the left shoulder during the time between the singing of the Gospel and the Communion. An exception is made for the third Sunday (GaudeteSunday), on which the vestments may be rose-coloured, or richer violet ones; the sacred ministers may on this Sunday wear dalmatics, which may also be used on the Vigil of the Nativity, even if it be the fourth Sunday of Advent. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) states that black was the colour to be used during Advent, but violet had already come into use for this season at the end of the thirteenth century. Binterim says that there was also a law that pictures should be covered during Advent. Flowers and relics of Saints are not to be placed on the altars during the Office and Masses of this time, except on the third Sunday; and the same prohibition and exception exist in regard to the use of the organ. The popular idea that the four weeks of Advent symbolize the four thousand years of darkness in which the world was enveloped before the coming of Christ finds no confirmation in the Liturgy.

HISTORICAL ORIGIN

It cannot be determined with any degree of certainty when the celebration of Advent was first introduced into the Church. The preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not held before the feast itself existed, and of this we find no evidence before the end of the fourth century, when, according to Duchesne [Christian Worship (London, 1904), 260], it was celebrated throughout the whole Church, by some on 25 December, by others on 6 January. Of such a preparation we read in the Acts of a synod held at Saragossa in 380, whose fourth canon prescribes that from the seventeenth of December to the feast of the Epiphany no one should be permitted to absent himself from church. We have two homilies of St. Maximus, Bishop of Turin (415-466), entitled “In Adventu Domini”, but he makes no reference to a special time. The title may be the addition of a copyist. There are some homilies extant, most likely of St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles (502-542), in which we find mention of a preparation before the birthday of Christ; still, to judge from the context, no general law on the matter seems then to have been in existence. A synod held (581) at Mâcon, in Gaul, by its ninth canon orders that from the eleventh of November to the Nativity the Sacrifice be offered according to the Lenten rite on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the week. The Gelasian Sacramentary notes five Sundays for the season; these five were reduced to four by Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-85). The collection of homilies of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) begins with a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent. In 650 Advent was celebrated in Spain with five Sundays. Several synods had made laws about fasting to be observed during this time, some beginning with the eleventh of November, others the fifteenth, and others as early as the autumnal equinox. Other synods forbade the celebration of matrimony. In the Greek Church we find no documents for the observance of Advent earlier than the eighth century. St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), who speaks of the feasts and fasts commonly celebrated by the Greeks, makes no mention of this season. In the eighth century we find it observed not as a liturgical celebration, but as a time of fast and abstinence, from 15 November to the Nativity, which, according to Goar, was later reduced to seven days. But a council of the Ruthenians (1720) ordered the fast according to the old rule from the fifteenth of November. This is the rule with at least some of the Greeks. Similarly, the Ambrosian and the Mozarabic rites have no special liturgy for Advent, but only the fast.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Advent Cleaning To Have A Clean Heart Full Of Grace To Welcome Jesus

We need to take advantage of every opportunity that we have to grow in holiness.  There are always ample influences working on us every second to get us away from God and the holy way of life.

Advent_Rorate Mass_high altar

Advent is one of those times that God has put into our Catholic faith to again, give us an opportunity to let go of things that do not please Him and to put into real practice those things that do please Him.

If we could just remind ourselves each day in Advent of the hard hitting truth; MY SINS offends God greatly.  Every one of our actions, that is contrary to God’s loving rules, is very offensive to God.

All of us are rightfully disturbed when someone else offends us with mean actions or words.  But, most of the time, we could care less about offending the AUTHOR of our LIFE, just because we love ourselves and the instantaneous pleasures we get from SIN.

In order to prepare for Christmas, which will be here much quicker than we can imagine, we need to take TIME to reflect on these actions and attitudes that we have accepted as normal in our lives, but yet are loathsome in the eyes God.

IMG_3317Then we need to work on truly admitting how evil these sins are, no matter how much we or the world have justify them.  Then we need to do everything we can do to root them permanently out of our lives.

Advent is that time of GRACE when God gives us an extra shove, and extra light, to help us PERMANENTLY remove these rotting vices from our souls.  But we have to avail ourselves to these graces by praying, being truly sorry and avoiding things, places or persons that tempt us, (avoiding ALL near occasions of sin).

Please, for once, be perfectly honest with yourselves.  Remember, we are not fooling God, ourselves or others when we pretend that sin is alright.  Deep in our souls we know what is good and what is evil.  But we have worked hard over a long period of time to cleverly developed thought patterns that “justify” continuing in sin.  This list that we have concocted, to not mind sinning, is endless;

  1. Everyone is doing it.
  2. I am lonely, depressed, so I need some “pornography”, “sex”, “drugs”, “alcohol”.
  3. There is nothing wrong with this.
  4. Its not that sinful.
  5. My spouse left me, so I am normal and need intimacy and sex.
  6. I can go to confession.  (Grave sin of presumption).
  7. I tried and cannot stop sinning.
  8. I am addicted.
  9. It just happens.
  10. It is what other people do that causes me to sin.
  11. The Bible is old fashion.
  12. The Catholic Church is wrong.
  13. I am human and it is human to sin.

fr-kenneth-walker1Some things which will help us stop sinning are;

  1. Honestly admit you are offending God greatly by every sin.
  2. Honestly admit that these are sins.
  3. Stop fooling yourself by watering down the gravity of ONE mortal sin; Death to your soul and eternal punishment in hell.
  4. Immediately turn to God and Mary for help through prayer.
  5. Keep busy doing good for God and others.
  6. Do everything possible to help others know what is sin and to stop sinning.
  7. Open your eyes to the consequences of sin throughout the whole world.
  8. Reflect on the suffering you have experienced from other people’s sins.
  9. Read the Holy Bible to have the grace of knowing the truth about the gravity of sin.
  10. Remember the effect of sin, that horrible separation from God, the guilt, the depression, the shame, that you experience after sinning.

It takes a great amount of prayer and effort to stop habitually sinning.  But each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, it becomes easier and easier, with God’s help and your determination.

st-john-vianney-confessionTake time to go to Confession.  But before you do, be prepared:

  1. Take time to read a good examination of conscience.
  2. Be sure you are extremely sorry for rebelling against God.
  3. Be sure you are extremely sorry for offending God.
  4. Have a period of time you have stopped doing the habitual sin before you go.
  5. Humbly listen to the priest’s admonition.
  6. Do the penance given.
  7. Read over before hand the Act of Contrition and be sure you can really put into practice what you will pray before God and the priest.
  8. Humbly admit you are a weak sinner in need of God’s help to be holy.

How wonderful it will be to have a pure heart full of the light of grace to receive Jesus into this Christmas.

Confession – Because We Need It

It is not my desire through this short post to explain to Non-Catholics the reasons that we, as Catholics, go to confession, but to encourage those that read this to recommit themselves to this sacrament.   We are about to end the liturgical year and begin a new one with the coming of Advent.  During the “year end” it is always good to bring to mind the actions, thoughts, desires, and ways that we have acted that are contrary to what we truly believe and how we “left undone” the things we ought to have done.  It is time to clean house and sweep away the dust.

Historically, the season of Advent was much like that of lent.  I want to encourage the readers of this blog to consider again the historical meaning of Advent, the preparations that it entails and the spirit of sacrifice that it ought to engender in us.  There will be several post that will be published that will help in the overall understanding of Advent, a novena to the Immaculate Conception, how to celebrate the birth of Our Lord in a traditional and holy manner with our families, and a few more posts as I have time to put them together. For today, I would like to focus on Confession and the spirit of Sacrifice that should pervade our thoughts at all time, and especially during Advent.


 

According to our Catechism and as one of the six precepts of the Church, we should all go to confession at least once a year. Now going to confession once a year is a requirement, but lets be honest, if all we are interested in is the “requirements” then we probably aren’t on very safe ground in terms of our eternal salvation.   All of the saints recommend going to confession frequently and by frequently we are talking about at least every two weeks with many of the saints recommending weekly.  St. Padre Pio said, “Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!” If our goal in life is to become holy, then weekly confession is paramount to our soul’s well being. 

Let’s examine the reasons behind weekly confession:

“Every sacrament imparts its own particular grace. The sacramental grace of confession is primarily the forgiveness of sins, but it is also, secondarily, the spiritual strengthening of the soul.  This is why it is called a sacrament of healing. It heals (reconciles) our relationships with God and with the Church, which have been wounded or broken by personal sin, and at the same time strengthens those relationships. When we break a bone, the body will repair it with an extra dose of calcium, so that the bone is actually stronger at the break point after the healing than it was before the injury. Something similar happens with confession. God pours out his strengthening grace in a special way on the aspects of our spiritual organism, so to speak, that we present to him in confession.

Now you can understand why the devil works so hard to keep us away from frequent, regular confession. If our relationship with God has been ruptured (by mortal sin), he doesn’t want it reconciled. But even if it has just been wounded (venial sin), he doesn’t want it strengthened.

This sacrament, however, proffers even more benefits to the soul than the sacramental graces of forgiveness and strengthening. Making a good confession requires the arduous task of self-reflection. Ongoing self-examination is, all spiritual writers agree, a basic ingredient in spiritual progress. We have to discover, with God’s help, how miserable and needy we really are, spiritually speaking, in order to open ourselves confidently and eagerly to God’s action. Going to confession is also like doing a major spiritual workout. Through the process of self-examination, repentance, confession, and penance, we exercise every major spiritual-muscle group: the theological virtues (faith, hope, love for God), humility (it’s not exactly self-inflating to kneel down and systematically expose our faults and failings), justice, prudence, fortitude (it takes courage to step into a confessional), and self-denial. This sacrament is like a gymnasium of Christian virtue. Frequent and regular workouts therein will do wonders for our spiritual health.” (FR. BARTUNEK)

If we look at the sacraments as God’s divine love for us and the ways that He wants us to attain to holiness and the beatific vision then it behooves us to truly recognize them for what they are and utilize them.  There is a reason Mass is said every day.  There is a reason that Confession is offered (hopefully) every Mass, there is a reason behind every sacrament but some sacraments can be participated in more than once namely: Mass and Confession.

If the normal means of salvation that God has provided for us are administered through the agency of the church, primarily through these two sacraments, what does it say about us that we neglect them?  What does it say about our love of God, our desire for purity, holiness and what does it say about where our heart is?  If we neglect the spiritual food that is offered to us, why do we complain when our lives become filled with the world and the things of the world?  Why do we complain when our prayers become harder to make, our thoughts harder to control, our passions harder to contain?  We NEGLECT the grace that is provided to us when we do not partake of the sacraments and partake frequently.  

We live in trying times.  Times that our Lady of Good Success spoke of in the late 1600’s:

  • “In those times the atmosphere will be saturated with the spirit of impurity which, like a filthy sea, will engulf the streets and public places with incredible license.… Innocence will scarcely be found in children, or modesty in women.”
  • “He who should speak seasonably will remain silent.
  • “There shall be scarcely any virgin souls in the world. The delicate flower of virginity will seek refuge in the cloisters.…Without virginity, fire from heaven will be needed to purify these lands.…
  • “Sects, having permeated all social classes, will find ways of introducing themselves into the very heart of homes to corrupt the innocence of children. The children’s hearts will be dainty morsels to regale the devil.…
  • “Religious communities will remain to sustain the Church and work with courage for the salvation of souls.… The secular clergy will fall far short of what is expected of them because they will not pursue their sacred duty. Losing the divine compass, they will stray from the way of priestly ministry mapped out for them by God and will become devoted to money, seeking it too earnestly.”  (more)

The quotes from above are over 300 years old and speak, specifically of the times we live in, and yet, we continue along the pathway that leads to hell while ignoring the warnings and not taking advantage of the means of grace. Because, as a society and the church, we have neglected the means of salvation and we now live in the filth of a world that is devoted to destroying itself.   Our lady also said in the same prophecy, “The small number of souls who will secretly safeguard the treasure of Faith and virtues will suffer a cruel, unspeakable, and long martyrdom. Many will descend to their graves through the violence of suffering and will be counted among the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the country and the Church.”   These are dire warnings and they all have become true!

So how do the warnings of Our Lady fit in with confession and advent?  Good question!  Confession helps keep our soul pure.  We live amidst filth.  Our world has left off the Kingship of Christ and has followed the path of Satan.  Our lady warned us of this and she has told us how to stop it.   We can complain about our Pope, our Bishops, and our Clergy but what good does that do?  We can sit demoralized and whine to God or we can do something about the issue.  We are not going to save the Church.  God can, and will through the Immaculate Heart but before He will do so we must do something and that something is repent and make reparations.  Our Lady of Fatima said for us to, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially whenever you make a sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’””

If we are serious about Christ reigning in our hearts, our homes and in our countries we must first clean out those things and it starts with our heart.  We must repent and the best way to do so is through the sacrament of Penance and to do so frequently. During this time of Advent, let us begin, again, to confess frequently.  To make small sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, and to pray earnestly for holiness.

As we put down our phones, turn off our TV’s or our computers, as we get alone and pray, let us remember what we are on this earth for and where we want to spend eternity.  God’s mercy is being poured out on the altars and in the confessional. Let us purpose to spend more time participating in both. Our soul and the souls of countless others depend on it.

— Jonathan Byrd I