Seeking the Sacraments

Seeking the Sacraments

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seeking the sacraments
Easing into the relationship with Jesus: Seeking the Sacraments: Spend 5 with Jesus, January 8, 2022 (Image credit: Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay )

Seeking – You probably have it backwards

The beginning of the year is a time where people seek to make themselves better. And given the focus on self-help, self-improvement, making the effort, relying on our hard work and discipline, it might seek quite out of place to suggest that the spiritual life is not about us at all. It is about the grace that Jesus longs to give each one of us.

The wisdom of the spiritual life is not the wisdom of Wall Street. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself. It is in giving that you receive. In order to be successful you must sacrifice. To be first, you must be last. And to have power, you must surrender.

Not as stressful as climbing Mount Everest

This is not the most common advice given in a business school or a leadership class. But the spiritual life is not really as difficult as we make it out to be. There can be the sense that being successful is like climbing Mount Everest.

Not about what we do, but who we become

The reality is that the emphasis in growing in the spiritual life is not about what we do, but about who we become. And this is not about our effort, but about our surrender to the will of God in our life, and seeking the person of Jesus in every aspect of our life. Put another way, it is really about making ourselves available for those things Jesus wants us to do so we can become what he wants us to be.

This is not the most common advice given in a business school or a leadership class. But the spiritual life is not really as difficult as we make it out to be. There can be the sense that being successful is like climbing Mount Everest.

Seeking is about being found

Probably everyone knows the song Amazing Grace. There is a deep hidden truth in that song. “I was lost but now am found.” Seeking Jesus is not really about our search at all, but Jesus’ powerful and never-ending search for us. Seeking is about when we allow ourselves to be found by Jesus. So how can you be found by Jesus?

If we are to think about a rescue operation, the person who is lost is probably most likely to be found if they learn how to wait upon the rescuers. And so the prayer life we seek to have is really about patient waiting. But if you are like me, you are not very good at that at all. I am not patient, and I do not like waiting.

But that is at the heart of the spiritual life. Waiting. Saint Teresa of Avila said “Patience obtains all things.” This is part of a prayer she wrote. The prayer underscores that it is waiting upon God that is really the key. Usually when we make a resolution we want to get started with lots and lots of activity. But that is not the way it is with God.

Let nothing disturb you, 
Let nothing frighten you, 
All things are passing away: 
God never changes. 
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing; 
God alone suffices.

Saint Teresa of Avila

So what is the best way to be patient? How is we best learn this lesson? What does it mean to be seeking the sacraments? How is it we attain the proven relationship with Jesus? The suggestion is to focus on two sacraments really: Confession and Eucharist. Today we will focus on the Sacrament of Confession. Tomorrow we will focus on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, both at Mass and in Adoration.

In order to grow, to become better, we need to examine what keeps us from not becoming better. What are the ways in which we are not the person we want to be, and in the spirit of discernment, what are the ways we need to become the person that Jesus wants us to be?


Image by falco from Pixabay

The sacrament of confession is really helpful, even if some people find it quite challenging. After all, admitting our faults is never easy. Sometimes it is hard because we are afraid of the reaction we might receive when we do so. At other times it is hard it is because we feel so ashamed about our life and what we have done that we do not really believe we can be forgiven by God.

But consider the story of the Prodigal Son. When the younger son goes off and wastes his father’s inheritance on sinful living (after having really told the father that he wished the father was dead because he wanted the inheritance he would receive at death NOW) he decides to go back simply as his father’s hired hands. But the father will hear none of this.

No, the father runs out to greet the son, gives him symbolic items that are not typical for the failed person. He reminds the son that his worth is beyond all imagining and that he was always ready for his return and was filled with mercy for his sinful actions.

This is the God of Confession. This is the person of Jesus who who longs for us to come to Him in the Sacrament of Confession. He so desperately wants to give us his mercy. He so very much wants you to know that He always loves you, and He loves you without conditions.

How to Go to Confession

Sometimes what keeps us from confession is that we do not remember what to do or how to go. This is an easy barrier to overcome. First, because you could simply go to confession and say, “I do not know what I need to do.” If you are not treated with kindness and compassion after saying something like this to the priest, then get up and walk out. Find another place to go to confession. No priest should be more interested in shaming than in being the vehicle of God’s mercy and the forgiveness of Jesus, the divine Son of God.

Secondly it is because it is easy to see the formula that is common for people to use. Here are the steps.

  1. Make a time in the Church or before confession to think about your life. Ask God to help you to examine your life and to find what areas of your life are in need of the forgiveness of God.
  2. Enter the confessional. The priest may say a short prayer before you begin. When I hear confessions, I usually say, “May God be in your heart and in your soul so that you might makes a good and holy confession.”
  3. Then you say, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (however long) since my last confession. If you do not remember exactly how long, especially if it has been a long time, just say that — “It has been a very long time since my last confession.”
  4. Then you say, “And these are my sins.” You then proceed to tell the priest those areas of your life that are sinful, and those areas where you are seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  5. Then, you will indicate when you are finished with telling your sins. Sometimes people say something like, “For these and for all my sins, I ask penance from you and forgiveness from Almighty God.”
  6. Then the priest will provide some counsel. This is important for a couple of reasons. It may be the case that you are too hard on yourself. It may also be the case that you are not hard enough on yourself. The goal is to help you to come more fully and completely into the merciful and loving arms of Jesus.
  7. The priest will then give you some penance to fulfill. The goal is that this is able to be accomplished and it designed to get you back on the right track with your relationship with Jesus. If the penance seems too difficult to fulfill or even impossible, tell that to the priest.
  8. Then you will say an Act of Contrition. There are many versions of this prayer. You can find a few on this website, the friar.org.
  9. Then the priest will say this prayer, the words of absolution. “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He then says, “Go in peace.” You respond “Thanks be to God.”

How to find a place to go to confession

Most Catholic parishes offer the sacrament of confession, often on a Saturday. But increasingly it is the case that parishes and priests offer confession at other times too. One helpful resource to find times where confession is regularly offered is Masstimes.org. Enter your ZIP code and you will find both a map, and a way to find the sacrament. There is a way to filter the places at the top of the page. Most priests also will hear confessions anytime if you call them.

How to go to confession
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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One thought on “Seeking the Sacraments: Easing into the proven relationship with Jesus: Spend 5 with Jesus, January 8, 2022”
  1. […] In our last “Spend 5 with Jesus, we focused upon the sacrament of confession as a way to enter into a proven relationship with God. One reason for starting with the Sacrament of Confession is because preparing ourselves for Mass is important. And, if we are aware of having committed a mortal sin, we should go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. […]

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