Hello dear brothers & sisters in Christ, I pray this bulletin article finds you well on your Lenten journey! If it seems to have been going great, praise the Lord! If you’re struggling, let us renew our prayer this day to strive to pray, fast and give alms for the glory of God this Lent so that we might grow more in union with our Lord who longs for us to be in union with Him, being perfected in His love, and on our way to becoming great saints. Sometimes that can sound daunting, and sainthood can seem so far away and so foreign to the reality of our lives. I totally understand!
One of the excruciating joys (yup, those words go together in this instance that I’m about to describe)…is when I hear confessions. Excruciating joy…here goes: so in the confessional, I love to experience God pouring out His mighty love and mercy and forgiving sins and lifting His sons and daughters up out of sin, shame, guilt and darkness and into the magnificent light of His love! Simultaneously, I often experience a conviction of sin in my life occurring when I hear confessions. So very often people will confess their sins and I’m thinking “oh man, mfe too! Oh shoot, I should have been confessing that sin in my life as well! Oh goodness…how did I miss that one in my own life?”
In the confessional, I’m always trying my best to focus on the person in front of me and continuing to pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance as to how best guide His beloved children, and God is so generous in providing a word, a tip, an insight for me to offer. And so, as I experience the convictions in my own soul of my own sin and shortcomings as others confess theirs, it’s ultimately a good thing that helps me to grow in holiness (becoming more conformed to Gods’ will and love). When I experience the conviction, it hits me and I try to simply acknowledge it with a humble heart, and then set it aside (but not forget it) and remain a devoted confessor to the person in front of me, and of course, to our Lord upon whom I depend to hear confessions well.
So this bulletin article is simply about one of your priests saying to you, in the midst of our Lenten journey, that growing in holiness isn’t easy. Lent isn’t a stroll in the mall. This stuff is tough, and Jesus said as much when He said “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24). So what do we do in the midst of the struggle? I think of that classic saying: when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Maybe that will inspire. I think about maybe rocking out to The Eye of the Tiger and doing some pushups (maybe eight or so, lol), perhaps that will help. However, in the heart of the struggle to deny self and grow in holiness, I can sense God (ever so faintly) tugging at my soul, “come to the cross…come to the cross”. And there at the cross of Christ, before the crucifix, without sufficient words to plead my cause…I find hope, grace, strength and encouragement as the truth is revealed anew: there is never anything better we could ever do than strive to respond to the crucified love of Jesus for us with every ounce of our being. Hang in there my friends, let us pray for each other, and let us go to the cross together, it’s the only way to life.
Bless You, Fr Patrick