Sunday, December 12, 2010

Be reconciled and be holy

Our priest mentioned something in his homily last Sunday that has really stuck with me through the week – partly because it was so profound, but also because I have been struggling with a particular sin in my own life.
He said that the holiness of a parish is not measured by the length of the line for Holy Communion, but by the length of the line for Confession.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced by the truthfulness of his statement. Whilst it is true that in Holy Communion our Lord makes us grow in holiness because He gives Himself to us, it is necessary that we receive Him worthily in order to receive this grace. Unfortunately, we can so easily grow complacent to our sins, and also become indifferent to our Lord in the Eucharist.
And this is just one way in which Confession can be so valuable to us Catholics. This is because a good confession requires us to honestly examine our conscience and accuse ourselves of our sins to the priest. Admitting our faults and sins to another person is an extremely humbling experience and it is never comfortable. But we must lift our hearts in faith past the person of the priest and always remember that he is hearing our confession as the ambassador of Christ. In other words, when we confess our sins to the priest, we must remember that we are really and truly accusing ourselves before our Lord Jesus Christ who is simply acting through the priest who then, vested with the authority of Christ, pronounces the absolution. And so, leaving the confessional, we can truly know that our sins are forgiven and go with a firm resolve to sin no more.
Oh, what a wonderful gift the Lord has given us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation! My own prayer is that I would be more faithful to make use of this Sacrament so that I may grow in holiness, and so grow more worthy to receive our Holy Lord in the Eucharist.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why Me?

Sometimes when things go wrong in our lives, we ask God “Why me?”
I know that I have often asked the question in the past because I didn’t have an proper appreciation for the value and depth of Christian suffering (which is a whole different subject). This week though, I asked God this question from a completely different perspective.
Considering my conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism, I seriously asked God why He chose me above any of my other Protestant friends. I mean, so many of them are smarter than I am, and many of them lead much holier lives than I do. So, why did God choose to open my eyes to the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church?
My guess is that most cradle Catholics wouldn’t understand where I am coming from because many are not really aware of just how anti-Catholic much of Protestantism can be (especially those who pride themselves on being “Bible Christians”). Many Protestants are completely misinformed about the Catholic Church – largely due to much of what they believe about the Catholic Church being handed down generationally. In fact, there are even Protestants who believe that the Catholic Church is the Beast of the Apocalypse, and that the Pope is Antichrist. So as you can imagine, becoming Catholic for us meant that so many teachings that we always took for granted had to be challenged and ultimately rejected.
That is why I asked the question. Why did God choose to soften our hearts to be even slightly open to investigating Catholic teaching? If He hadn’t, we would never have become Catholic. Rather than leaving us in our misinformed ignorance, God in His grace and mercy gave us an opportunity to really study Catholic teaching – not from the mouths of misinformed Protestants, but from godly Catholics. And boy were we surprised!
So this week, when I asked the question “Why me?” it was a gentle reminder that I am Catholic not because of anything wonderful that I have done. No – I am Catholic because of God’s grace. And I pray that the question would remain on my lips until that day that our Lord calls me home so that I can learn humility.