Thursday, March 22, 2012

In the Confessional

One area of the monastery I might prefer to skip over is the Confessional.  This place is part of the physical monastery, certainly - but does it have to be part of the spiritual monastery as well?  I mean, maybe I'd rather think about a nice little “friendship area,” where I imagine myself talking things over with Jesus and I can “hear” Him telling me what a really good job I’m doing out here in the world.  After all, I’m not a big sinner.  I don’t go around robbing stores.  Perhaps I could just do away with the confessional part, replacing it with something less untidy.

The truth is, however, that the confessional IS part of the monastery.   It is part of the physical monastery, and it must be part of the “monastery” of a cloistered heart.   

To tell Our Lord that we are sorry for our sins is, in reality, coming to the Doctor for healing of our wounds. “As a doctor hates sickness and does everything he can to eliminate it and to help the sick person, so do you, my God, work in me with your grace to extinguish sin and free me from it.” (St. Augustine)

Am I aware of “sicknesses” in my soul today?  Am I carrying a burden of sin or failure in need of healing?   If so, I can be assured that Jesus knows.  And in His compassion, He waits.   

With His forgiveness, mercy, and healing held out to me, Jesus waits…..

For reflection:

“Should we fall into sin, let us at once humble ourselves sorrowfully in His presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be canceled and anxiety will be turned into love.”  (St. Paul of the Cross)
"Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery.  One thing alone is necessary: that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” (St. Faustina).

“Repentance is the renewal of Baptism and a contract with God for a second life.” (St. John Climacus)

“If my conscience were burdened with all the sins it is possible to commit, I would still go and throw myself into our Lord’s arms, my heart all broken up with contrition.  I know what tenderness He has for any prodigal child of His that comes back to Him.” (St. Therese of Lisieux) 

For prayer: 

“I acknowledged my sin to You, my guilt I covered not.  I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord,’ and You took away the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)
"I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.  For he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:12-14)

Text not in quotes

(painting: Sankt Janobus del Altere by Rembrandt)