Catholic News Service
Lent presents me with the opportunity — and the obligation — to examine where my life is modeling your example and where I am failing to help bring about the kingdom of God.
Help me to delve deeply into my life during this season of penance and give a thorough look at what my values are and how I live them out each day.
Many times, I consult my “grocery list” of sins, confess them and find them remarkably similar month after month. I say my act of contrition and move on.
This Lent, I ask you to help me to look more intensely into the trajectory of my life, and the trajectory of each precious day. Help me not to skim the surface of minor infractions, but to probe the depth of motivation and desire.
If I truly believe that a relationship with you, Jesus, is the ultimate goal of my life, how and where do I fail to apply myself to this goal?
Forgive me for the days when I have neglected a time of quiet and reflection necessary to anchor myself in your love and direction. Forgive me for failing to seek out spiritual nourishment in reading and entertainment. Forgive me when I’ve neglected to nourish a faith community, a community that supports me and my family as we strive to grow in grace.
Help me to examine my priorities for the use of my leisure time, my volunteer time, my family time.
Do I hear the cry of the poor? Forgive me for the times I have stayed insulated in my security and failed to reach out in a personal way to the hungry, the naked, the refugee, the suffering, the sick and the grieving.
Forgive me for straying from the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Help me to examine them and make them a focus of my Lenten good works.
Do I live as if loving is my first priority? Forgive me for the times I fail to look another, particularly a child, in the eyes and truly listen.
Forgive me for the times I have been so convinced of my rightness on an issue that I have failed to value the opinion and the person of another. Forgive me for the times I’ve been selfish with my resources. Forgive me for the times I’ve automatically thought “me first.”
Do I acknowledge that the deepest desire of every human heart is God, and yet continue to procrastinate in my pursuit of the holy? Do I seek God in all things? Forgive me for laziness. Help me to make concrete plans this Lent.
The prophet Jeremiah said the Lord promises us a new covenant. “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33).
Lord, help me to probe my heart during Lent, to find your law there and to experience your healing love.
(Caldarola is a freelance writer and a columnist for Catholic News Service.)
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“I like to think (God) has one weakness: a bad memory,” Pope Francis told a group of seminarians, new priests and priests taking a course sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, March 4, 2016.
“Once he has forgiven you, he forgets. And this is great!” the pope said. “The sins are no more; they have been wiped away by divine mercy.”
The sacrament of reconciliation, Pope Francis said, is a “privileged place to experience the mercy of God.”
He urged the group to “put the focus back on the sacrament of reconciliation” as a space where both confessors and penitents can experience the “unique, definitive and faithful love that God has for every one of his children, a love that never disappoints.”
Every time a priest gives absolution, the pope said, there is “in a certain way a jubilee” that brings joy to the entire church, but “first of all to God himself.”
Quoting the Gospel of Luke, he said, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance” (15:7).
A confessor must ensure that the faithful leave the confessional without the burden of guilt, Pope Francis said, but as one who has been freed by God, ready to “meet their brothers and sisters with a good and willing heart.”