The last few days have been extremely busy for me: out of town travel, nights away from home, meetings, extended conference calls, training, and the like. This morning on my way to work I thought, “Man, I’m looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight, just my wife and me.” Then, about five minutes later when I got to work and checked my weekly calendar, I realized that tonight is already spoken for: we have our parish Lenten Communal Penance Service at 7:00 p.m. I had completely forgotten about it.
My reaction to this was, of course, to consider whether I’ve committed any sins since my last confession last Saturday. Thinking that I am in pretty good spiritual shape at the moment, I thought, “Nah, I’m good.”
At my mid-morning break I opened my daily devotional of writings of Saint Augustine. I was looking for today’s date but the little ribbon that marked the page of my last reading was on the previous page. Before flipping the page I casually perused what was written there, and then, smiling, I once again accepted that He often gives me the direction I need exactly when I need it. I read:
“God is not now so long-suffering in putting up with you that He will fail to be just in punishing. Do not say then: ‘Tomorrow I shall be converted, tomorrow I shall please God, and all that I shall have done today and yesterday will be forgiven me.’
“What you say is true: God has promised forgiveness if you turn back to Him. But, what He has not promised is that you will have tomorrow in which to achieve your conversion.” – Saint Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 144,11
I thought, “Okay, I hear You, God, you’re telling me I ought to perhaps rethink my plans for tonight.”
I suspect that wasn’t quite the reaction God was looking for because the very next thought that came to mind was the confession we make at the beginning of mass:
“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do….”
My mind zeroed in on the line, “….and in what I have failed to do”. My idea that I haven’t committed any sins in the last five days may be true, but I failed to consider my sins of omission, those things which I should have done but failed to do.
“Have I given my whole heart to God this week? Yeah, I think so.”
“Have I prayed as often as I should? Have my prayers been sincere and a true conversation with God? I’d say my piety has been better than normal lately.”
“Have I loved my family as I should and let them know my love for them? Ah ha! Because I’ve been so busy, I haven’t talked to my daughters this week and told them how much I love them! I need to do that.”
“In the absence of committing an unkind act, have I omitted intentionally showing kindness to others? No, I think I did pretty well in this category.”
“Have I been productive when I could have been, or have I been lazy instead? Hmmm, okay, you’ve got me there, that important thing I’ve been procrastinating about needs my serious attention!”
I guess I know where I’ll be tonight. But, that’s okay. As I often hear people say, “It’s all good”. I’ve never been to reconciliation without coming away feeling relieved, as though my load is lightened. I always feel God’s presence and feel strengthened by His forgiving Love.
This is the season of Lent. And, if your parish has a Lenten Penance Service, take advantage of it and let God’s mercy lift some of that excess baggage off of you. If you’ve let your parish Penance Service pass you by, you still have time before Holy week to take advantage of your regularly scheduled reconciliation opportunity. Make time for it. Open your heart and let God’s presence and His Healing Light shine into the dark recesses of your soul, and be renewed. God is constantly ready to forgive us if we just turn to Him. Do it soon. Your “tomorrow” may not come.
God bless you all.
(Tomorrow May Not Come was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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