...is that it is amazing that we can even approach God for forgiveness of sin
Have you ever considered this? That the first prayer that ever got you in touch with God, was something along the lines of , "I am sorry that I keep doing things that are wrong. I am desperate for forgiveness, and the power of turning from sin that comes from your Holy Spirit. Please, Jesus, abide in me, and keep me abiding in You. "
Or maybe it didn't start out that way. Maybe it was more like, "God, if you give me what I need today, I promise I will quit _____________ and go back to church". As if God is benefited by those things personally. He cares yes, but more so, He cares about your "why".
There are plenty of letters to churches in the New Testament that warn about becoming complacent about grace and the marvelous thing that Jesus did for us. Comfortable sins creep in, and instead of dealing with them in power, we sweep them under the rug of grace.
The Catholic church has this Rite of Contrition, that is a beautifully eye opening and submissive practice for the Christian who wants to totally be as close to Jesus' likeness as he or she can be.
I'm posting it here for your use today and this week. It's not fun, or short, or easy. Neither are push-ups, but we know they are necessary for strength.
By bringing this practice into your life, you will be braving the mirror and putting into action your resolve to be like Jesus. Don't be scared of the person in the mirror. Be scared of the person you will be by choosing blindness over brave honesty.
I'm leaving my writing here, to chip away at this list myself. Don't be afraid of the "thee's" and "thine's". This practice is old, but also feels new. It is taken from parts of what Catholics would talk with over a priest, but I think it is also pious to do this alone with God as well, or in place of an official church "Confession Rite" if you are Protestant (like me). It talks about mass, Catholic school, ect. - just find your cultural equivalent and examine through that lens, if you are not of the Catholic faith.
The dots are inserts by me. I have taken out the Catholic specific parts that may be distracting to a Protestant who wants to examine his conscience with this guide (not to the offense of any Catholics who may read this - peace and love). If you would like to see the Catholic specific bits, please refer to the link, as well as the source provided. I don't mean to hide or change anything for my own gain, but I see that it would be more alarming/confusing to use this effective guide as a Protestant Christian with the originally included Catholic specific parts (they mostly refer to contraceptive use and Mass attendance on Holy days). Check out the link if you are interested.
Peace, and Abide in Christ. He will also abide in you, Love.
Act of Contrition: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and fear the pains of hell, but most of all, because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love. I firmly intend with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. AMEN
Examination of Conscience
I. “I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”
Have I sinned against Religion by seriously believing in New Age, Scientology, Astrology, Horoscopes, Fortune-telling, Superstition or engaging in the Occult? Did I endanger my Catholic Faith or cause scandal by associating with... groups & associations.... Have fame, fortune, money, career, pleasure, etc. replaced God as my highest priority? Have I neglected my daily prayers?
II. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
Have I committed blasphemy by using the name of God and Jesus Christ to swear rather than to praise? Have I committed sacrilege by showing disrespect to holy objects (crucifix, rosary) or contempt for religious persons (bishop, priests, deacons, women religious) or for sacred places (in Church). .... Have I neglected to support the Church and the poor by sharing my time, talent and treasure?
III. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
Did I miss Mass on any Sunday or Holyday of Obligation? (Bad weather and being sick do not count) Have I shown disrespect by leaving Mass early, not paying attention or not joining in the prayers? Did I do unnecessary work on Sunday which could have been done the day before? Have I been stingy in my support for the Church? Do I give of my time & talent?
IV. Honor thy Father and Mother.
Parents: Have I set a bad example for my children by casually missing Mass, neglecting prayer, or ignore my responsibility to provide a Catholic education by either sending my children to parochial school or to C.C.D. (Religious Education Program)? Do I show little or no interest in my children’s faith and practice of it? Have I showed disrespect for those in authority, government or church? Have I not expressed my moral values to them?
Children: Have I been disobedient and/or disrespectful to my parents or guardians? Did I neglect to help them with household chores? Have I caused them unnecessary worry and anxiety by my attitude, behavior, moods, etc.?
V. Thou shalt not kill.
Did I consent, recommend, advise, approve, support or have an abortion? Did I realize that there is an excommunication for anyone who procures an abortion? Did I actively or passively cooperate with an act of euthanasia whereby ordinary means were stopped or means taken to directly end the life of an elderly or sick person? Have I committed an act of violence or abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or verbal)? Have I endangered the lives of others by reckless driving or by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Do I show contempt for my body by neglecting to take care of my own health? Have I been mean or unjust to anyone? Have I held a grudge or sought revenge against someone who wronged me? Do I point out others’ faults and mistakes while ignoring my own? Do I complain more than I compliment? Am I ungrateful for what other people do for me? Do I tear people down rather than encourage them? Am I prejudiced against people because of their color, language or ethnic-religious background?
VI. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
Did I have any sex before or outside of marriage? Do I view pornographic material (magazines, videos, internet, hot-lines)? Have I gone to massage parlors or adult book stores?...Have I not avoided the occasions of sin (persons or places) which would tempt me to be unfaithful to my spouse or to my own chastity? Do I encourage and entertain impure thoughts and desires? Do I tell or listen to dirty jokes? Have I committed fornication or adultery?
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
Have I stolen any object, committed any shoplifting or cheated anyone of their money? Did I knowingly deceive someone in business or commit fraud? Have I shown disrespect or even contempt for other people’s property? Have I done any acts of vandalism? Am I greedy or envious of another’s goods? Do I let financial and material concerns or the desire for comfort override my duty to God, to Church, to my family or my own spiritual well-being?
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Have I told a lie in order to deceive someone? Have I told the truth with the purpose and intention of ruining someone’s reputation (sin of detraction)? Have I told a lie or spread rumors which may ruin someone’s reputation (sin of calumny or slander)? Did I commit perjury by false swearing an oath on the Bible? Am I a busybody or do I love to spread gossip and secrets about others? Do I love to hear bad news about my enemies?
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