Mission: Possible

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(A reflection on today’s first reading from Acts 9:1-20)

Ananais Restoring the Sight of St. Paul, Jean Il Restout, 1719, The Louvre Museum

One of my favorite television series as a child in the 60’s was Mission: Impossible. At the beginning of each episode, Jim Phelps (played by actor Peter Graves) received a tape recorded message describing a mission being presented to him that began, “Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it….”. Each mission was complicated and dangerous and had a high likelihood of ending with him and his team of secret agents losing their lives. Without fail, Agent Phelps accepted the impossible mission and successfully completed it.

This memory came from out of nowhere this morning as I read the Scripture for the day. The first reading from Acts is the account of Saul’s conversion and baptism. The Lord struck Saul, blinded him and left him to sit praying at the house of Judas for three days. Simultaneously, the Lord called upon Ananais, a follower of the Way, to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that he would regain his sight. The Lord told Ananais, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for in my name.”

Scripture doesn’t say, but Ananais either passed that message along to Saul or it came to Saul via the Holy Spirit, and he immediately began to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus.

God created Saul just like the rest of us, with free will to accept him or to turn away from him. Saul chose to accept Jesus as the Son of God and, in so doing, accepted what had to seem like an impossible mission at the time: convince and convert the entire world to do the same. One difference between Saul and Jim Phelps was that Saul knew the mission, in the end, would definitely result in his death.

Saul, the other Apostles, and the saints throughout the centuries made a pretty good start at converting the world. But, the work is still not completed. God calls each of us in our baptism and confirmation to continue their work. With the condition the world is in today, it may seem like an even more impossible mission. Yet, we can do it one person at a time, because the other difference between our work and Jim Phelps’ is that, with God, all things are possible!

What can you do today to be part of the Mission: Possible team?

“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy. Holy Spirit, thank You for opening my heart to the will of God and urging me to continue the work of the Apostolic Fathers and saints in this Mission: Possible.

“I resolve today, Lord, to reach out to a friend who is hurting and invite her to join my wife and I in praying a Rosary for healing during the month of May, per our Holy Father’s request. Amen.”

(Mission: Possible was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

The Cardinal at My Window

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Some people are keeping track of the number of days they’ve been in lockdown, or quarantine, or whatever you want to call it. I haven’t kept track because it really doesn’t matter. Today is today and it’s here that the Lord meets us. Not in our memories of yesterday or our worries about tomorrow. Today.

That’s easy to say, but lately it hasn’t been easy for me to feel the Lord’s presence. I’ve been faithful to my daily prayer and meditation, yet I miss receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and I feel my spiritual life has grown a little stale.

Yesterday morning as I was eating breakfast and trying to figure out what I would do during the day, I heard a tapping at my living room window. I curiously checked it out and found a bright red male cardinal fluttering his wings and striking the glass with his beak. He would tap for a few seconds and then fly to a nearby branch of a pink dogwood tree. Shortly, he would come back and repeat the performance.

That beautiful and persistent little guy kept up his routine throughout the day until nightfall and then came back this morning with renewed vigor. And, he’s been at it all day today! Tap, tap, tap on the window. It’s like there’s something in here that he wants.

Maybe he wants my attention.

I recalled reading somewhere that a cardinal sighting represents an angel or the spirit of a loved one who has returned to let one know they are with you and watching over you. Interested, I did an on-line search along those lines and I came up with a few hits from New-Age or psychic resources that point to this being a Christian belief. But, I know that superstition and Christianity don’t mix. I know that a black cat crossing one’s path isn’t an assurance of bad luck. And, I’m pretty sure there’s no reference in Scripture tying cardinals to the spirits of those who have passed.

Yet, while I don’t believe in superstition, I do believe that God sends us signs. Is a cardinal the definitive sign God has chosen to tell us that a loving spirit is watching over us? I don’t think so. But, can God send us a loving spirit as a sign through a cardinal? Certainly He can! God created it. He can do what He wants.

Needing to spend some time reading and meditating on the Scripture de jour, I set all those thoughts about cardinals aside and found my place of silence and solitude. I read in today’s first reading: “Jesus was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him… “(Acts 2:22); “I saw the Lord ever before me…” (v. 25); “my heart has been glad and my tongue exulted…” (v. 26); and “…You will fill me with joy in Your presence.” (v. 28).

In the Psalm (Ps 16), I read, “I keep the Lord always before me;…therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices.” (v. 8-9).

And, the Gospel, Lk 24:13-35, recounted the appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; how at first they didn’t recognize Him, but, once they did in the breaking of the bread, their hearts were filled with joy and they hurried to tell the Eleven of their encounter with Him.

Collectively, these passages reminded me that Jesus is always with me even though I may not always recognize Him or feel His presence. He is with me in the people He has placed in my life and in my life’s circumstances. They reminded me of the joy I feel when I do feel Him near me. They reminded me that even in difficult times when the world pulls my attention away from Him, He is still there going before me. And, they reminded me that I ought not to keep quiet but to hurry and tell others about Him.

And, then, I thought about the bird again. Was God wanting to catch my attention with one of His truly beautiful creations as a sign to let me know of His presence? Whether it was His intention or not, it certainly worked.

Could that crazy cardinal have actually been a messenger sent to draw me away from the hum-drum of isolation so that I could refocus on His love for me? Possibly. If so, He succeeded by reminding me of the grace that He gives me each and every day. That His grace is here with me in the love I share with my wife and our support for each other during these unusual times. It was there in the video calls with all four daughters and grandchildren today. It was there last night in the good food, friendship and conversation we shared among a few friends as we “risked” getting together for the first time in over a month.

But, mostly, that silly, persistent, cardinal, who wouldn’t give up pecking at my window, reminded me to never give up on God’s love for me, and never give up loving Him in return.

“Good and gracious God, thank you for sending your fine feathered creation to draw my attention back to You. Even though I may lose sight of You from time to time, thank You for never leaving my side. Lord, thank You for Your angels who watch over me. And, I pray that the souls of all the faithful departed, through Your mercy, rest in peace. Amen.”

(The Cardinal at My Window was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Speak Boldly Like Peter

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Visit of Nicodemus to Christ, John La Farge, 1880, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Ever since Easter the first readings of daily Scripture have been from the Acts of the Apostles and have been accounts of Peter speaking and healing in the name of Jesus. In healing the man who had been crippled from birth, he and John astonished the other Jews who were going into the temple for their three o’clock prayer (Acts 3:1-10).

Filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8), Peter went on to speak with great confidence to the people of Jerusalem and converted thousands in the process. In spite of being arrested by the Sanhedrin, thrown in jail, and almost sentenced to death by them, he continued to speak boldly (Acts 4:13, 29, 31) and bear witness with great power to Christ’s resurrection (Acts 4:33).

Certainly, seeing Jesus twice since His death; having Jesus explain the purpose of His crucifixion (Lk 24:45-47); and committing to follow Jesus by being reminded that he denied Him three times (Jn 21:15-17), brought about Peter’s complete conversion. His heart was fully convicted and his will completely committed to obeying the Lord to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). Any fear he and the Apostles might have had was replaced with fortitude to speak boldly, and to rejoice when they were persecuted and suffered dishonor for the sake of the name [of Jesus]. (Acts 5:41).

In addition to this recounting in the Acts of the Apostles, we have also, this week, been reading about Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-21), a Pharisee and the teacher of Israel (Jn 3:10). Nicodemus came to Jesus one night after hearing about Him driving the money-changers out of the temple, and, more than likely, about His miracle at Cana. He questioned Jesus about His miracles, or signs, because he knew that they could only come from God. Jesus explains that the only way to enter the kingdom of God is to be born again by being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus doesn’t understand the concept of being born again and questions, “How can this happen?

As many times as I’ve read this I always saw Nicodemus’ questioning as trying to catch Jesus in blasphemy so that He could be imprisoned. I had a vision of the learned Nicodemus on an ego trip, and, when the conversation was over, him walking away shaking his head in frustration and disbelief. But, I’m wondering if I was wrong. Maybe Nicodemus actually believed Jesus was who He said He was but his questions were simply an attempt to better understand.

At the end of the Gospel on Good Friday, we read in Jn 19:39 that, Nicodemus, the one who had first come to Him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds, and, along with Joseph of Arimathea, helped bury Jesus’ body. Why would he do that? A hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe must have been worth a significant sum. A hundred pounds seems to be a measure that might be fit for a King. Could Nicodemus have come, through faith, to accept Jesus as the Messiah?

Nicodemus appears one other time in Scripture, in Jn 7:50. The Pharisees had sent officers to arrest Jesus but they came back empty handed because they, too, were amazed at the way He taught. They were reprimanded and accused of being deceived by Jesus like they perceived the crowds had been. Nicodemus stepped up and asked his fellow Pharisees, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?”, to which he is ridiculed for forgetting that “no prophet arises from Galilee.” Could Nicodemus have been making an attempt to stand up for Jesus and protect Him?

I’m not a theologian and I haven’t consulted one on this subject. But, for the moment, I am going to assume that Nicodemus secretly believed, like Joseph of Arimathea, that Jesus was the Messiah. Maybe after that first encounter with Jesus and seeing the miracles He subsequently performed, Nicodemus came to believe that He was the Son of God. And, I’m going to suppose that he followed the doings of the Apostles after the resurrection and the Lord’s ascension and heard their witnesses. If that were true, then what would Nicodemus have said if he’d been asked if he believed in Jesus?

I think the fact that Nicodemus is never again mentioned in the New Testament indicates that he either never gave anyone a reason to ask him, or, if they did, he denied his belief. Admitting his belief would have been at odds with the rest of the Pharisees and certainly the Sanhedrin. He was a leader, a prominent figure in Jerusalem, and taking sides with Jesus and his rag-tag band of followers would have turned their entire law upside down. Believing in Jesus would have been tantamount to blasphemy and could have meant his death. He was, I’m sure, a wealthy man and, at a minimum, he would have forfeited many material possessions besides just his status and reputation.

Thus, as I pondered this all week, I concluded that if he did come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, he kept it to himself. Whereas Peter, who had nothing to lose but his life, spoke boldly with courageous faith, Nicodemus could never even whisper a word for fear of losing the things of this world which he so esteemed.

And, therein lies the question I have to ask myself – at the risk of losing everything, would I be Peter and boldly proclaim Christ as my Savior and rejoice in the prospect of persecution, or would I be Nicodemus and, out of fear, remain silent?

What would you do?

“Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love. You know I love You. I pray that my love for You will always grow stronger. I pray that if the day ever comes that I may have to choose between life and my faith in You, that I have, like Peter, the courage to choose You. But, I know I’m weak, so mostly I pray that I am never put to that test. Amen.”

(Speak Boldly Like Peter was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!

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Today is a 2-fer day: two reflections from my prayer and meditation on today’s Scripture.

(A 100-word reflection on Luke 24:13-35 – Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus)

Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio, 1606

The two disciples with whom Jesus spent the day walking to Emmaus did not at first recognize Him. But, at day’s end, Jesus sat with them “at table, took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but He vanished from their sight.” (Lk24:30-31)

They thought Jesus had left them. But, He was still there….present in the bread that he’d just consecrated.

I can’t see Him, either. But, He’s still there in the Holy Eucharist which I will soon be able to receive again.


(A 100-word reflection on Ps 118:24)

Before my meditation this morning I looked out my window as the sun was rising in a cloudless bright blue sky over my frosted lawn. A red-breasted robin, perched on a branch of a blooming pink dogwood tree, was checking me out just inches from one window. A few feet outside another window were five goldfinches clinging to my bird feeder having their breakfast.

Then, I read the same verse from Psalms that’s been in the Liturgy every day this week: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!”

I can do that!

“Good and gracious Lord, thank You for the beauty that You bring to each and every day. Help me to always see the beauty of Your handiwork, even in the cloudy and dreary days. And, Lord, may I never fail to rejoice and be glad when I receive Your Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist. Amen.”

(Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad! was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Recognizing Jesus

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(A reflection on Jn 20:11-18)

As she wept at His tomb, Mary of Magdela encountered Jesus but didn’t recognize Him until He spoke to her compassionately, saying, “Mary, stop holding on to Me”. Then, obeying her teacher, Mary told the disciples with pure joy, “I have seen the Lord!”

I can’t see Jesus face to face in this life. But, I know He’s present every moment of my day. He sends His love to me through Holy Scripture and through my wife, children, friends and many of life’s circumstances. I need to better recognize Him and live such that others may recognize Him in me.

“Lord Jesus, today I resolve to recognize the kindness of others as Your love poured out through them. And, I resolve to be the instrument through whom your love and mercy may touch others. Amen.”

(Recognizing Jesus was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

From the Archives: Go to Galilee

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As I read today’s Scripture, the difference in my attitude between last week and this morning became apparent. Last week it was difficult to have a conversation with Christ. How could I bring to Him my piddly troubles when He was being sold out, scourged, mocked and crucified? But, this morning, as I read Peter’s speech to the people of Jerusalem (Acts 2:22-33), I felt renewed. To paraphrase Peter, my heart is glad….my flesh dwells in hope….and the Lord’s presence fills me with joy.

Then, as I read the Gospel, Mt 28:8-15, I realized that Jesus is wanting to be with me. And, I remembered having the same feeling last year on Easter Monday and sharing it with you then. It’s worth sharing again. He wants to be with you, too.

(Go To Galilee was originally posted on 22 April 2019)

Painting by Hans Memling – 1480

(A reflection on Mt 28:8-10)

As the two Marys rushed fearfully and joyfully to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard, they met Jesus on the way. Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.”

After the intensity of Holy Week – the exhausting emotion of reflecting on Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection – I need to meet Jesus again. And soon. I need to go to Galilee. My Galilee is that place of solitude and silence, where I can spend time with Him in meditative prayer.

Where’s your Galilee? 

GO THERE.

Reconciliation: A Grace-Filled Turning Back to God

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Each day this week I’ve offered related posts about sin, Spiritual Atrophy that brings about heightened opportunities to sin during these stressful times of self-isolation, and ways to recognize the sins you’ve committed (or omitted): the “Checklist”, CPR, and Analytical methods of examining one’s conscience.

So, what is the next step? You’ve utilized one of these methods and identified particular actions or attitudes that have damaged your relationship with either God, other people, or both. You’ve analyzed the seriousness of your sins, determined if they are mortal or venial, and now you feel remorse, embarrassment, or, even worse, shame for having committed them. If you’ve made it this far and genuinely have a contrite heart, you’re good to go on to the next step. If you don’t feel a real sense of remorse, then you probably ought to go back to step one and start over again.

The next step for the repentant soul is to let God love you! This means accepting that God loves you even when you are wounded and stained. It means turning back to God and loving Him in return by telling Him that you’re sorry for choosing an inferior good over Him. And, it means asking for God’s mercy, His forgiveness, and to be cleansed of your sins. Asking is necessary, for as St. Augustine said, the Lord who created you without your permission, cannot save you without your permission. We take this step by going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessing our sins, and receiving His mercy even though we don’t deserve it.

I have heard many and various reasons why people don’t want to go to confession: embarrassment, shame, fear of what God will think, fear of what the priest will think, etc. It’s important to remember that God is not scandalized by our sins – He already knows what they are! We may try to justify our sins in an attempt to lessen their severity, but God can’t be fooled. He wants humility and honesty and to see that our view matches up with His. God is like a father who is not scandalized when his teenaged new driver has his or her first fender bender.

Neither will the priest be scandalized. Every priest I’ve ever talked to about reconciliation has said they rejoice when a person confesses their sins. They see it as a win/win: a victory for the Lord that we have returned, and a victory for us that our sins have been erased. A common excuse many give for not going to confession is that the priest will be surprised with your sin. This time, you’re fooling yourself. There are very few sins he hasn’t heard. The devil is not that creative! Neither will the priest remember your sins. He hears so many there’s no way he can remember them all, and he doesn’t want to. Finally, the priest is bound by a sacred seal to never repeat anything that you mention in the confessional.

Another common excuse for not going to confession is that it’s easier to just talk to God and give Him your apology. The Protestants might think that works for them but it doesn’t work for us Catholics. Sorry. We go to confession because Jesus himself invented the Sacrament of Reconciliation, not the Apostles, not any one particular pope, not the Church in general, but Jesus. (Jn 20:19-23). Also, we are human, a combination of body and soul. We need to hear with our ears that we are forgiven and we hear Jesus forgive us through the priest just as we would have two thousand years ago if it was Jesus himself. (CCC 1441-1442)

Once you’ve moved past your fears and rationale for not going to confession and decided to show up at the confessional, it’s best to know how to make a good confession. First, one needs to be completely open and honest and be frank in saying their sins. There’s no need to explain or try to justify what you’ve done. If the priest thinks it’s necessary to know, he’ll ask. Perhaps even more importantly, one needs to truly repent and demonstrate a desire to not commit that sin again by reciting an act of contrition. Then, one needs to demonstrate a desire to change and be healed by carrying out the penance assigned by the priest, and give consideration to what will be done differently to avoid that sin in the future.

A good confession is rounded out by a prayer of thanksgiving and a feeling of love shared between God the Father and you, His beloved son or daughter. This reconciliation with God and the whole Church is truly a moving experience! God gives us His own life in the form of grace that restores and heals us. It gives us the strength to do good, resist evil, and begin again. And, it remits the eternal consequences of our sin (Hell).

Another way to show gratitude for the absolution of our sins is to encourage friends and family to visit this Spring of Living Water just as the Samaritan woman did when she invited the people of her town to meet Jesus. (Jn4:28) Is there any better act of charity than to help others who are stained with sin to be cleansed and reconciled to God?

I am late getting this posted so you will not be reading it until Saturday at least. Many parishes typically offer the Sacrament on Saturdays, and still do even with the pandemic, but follow the mandated social distancing guidelines. I pray that these posts this week will have encouraged you to examine your conscience; identify those particular areas where you’ve been less virtuous than you should; and, by better understanding the Sacrament, give you the fortitude to visit Jesus and receive the Living Water that He offers. Remember, He can’t fill your cup if it’s turned upside down.

I hope you have a truly faith-filled Holy Week in spite of not being able to participate in the celebration at your church. God bless you all!

(Reconciliation: A Grace-Filled Turning Back to God was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 3: The Analytical Method

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This post presents the third of three methods for making a good and thorough examination of conscience. On Monday, I posted Spiritual Atrophy and the Need for an Examination of Conscience During Self-Isolation in which I emphasized the dangers of letting our spiritual lives decline during this difficult time of isolation; the associated risk of falling into sin more easily; and how a good examination of conscience can help turn us around.

On Tuesday, I posted How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 1: The “Checklist” Method. In it I discussed the types of sin, the general principles behind a good examination, and links to examples of questions to ask ourselves when making an examination.

And, yesterday I posted How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 2: The CPR Method. This method is less specific and more subjective than the “Checklist” method and begins by recalling the times God was present in your life during the day; looks at the events of the day and how you reacted to them; and finishes by making a resolution to improve.

Today, I am presenting the Analytical Method of examining one’s conscience. Like the CPR method, I am copying the following from Laudate, a very useful, comprehensive, and essential Catholic app. This method combines some of each of the previous two methods. It can be both objective with Yes/No questions, and subjective with open ended reflection.

The Analytical Method

A. Quiet your soul and enter into God’s presence, asking Him for light to know yourself and to know Him.

B. Review the major areas of God’s will in your life [e.g. roles and responsibilities], examining the level of your faithfulness to what God was asking of you. Trust that the Holy Spirit will draw your attention to what He wants you to reflect on. As you do this examination, keep asking yourself, “Why?”, so that you are sure to let God’s healing grace seep into the very roots of your selfish tendencies.You could arrange this examination by key relationships:

  1. You could arrange this examination by key relationships:
  • Relationship with God: prayer, obeying the Commandments;
  • Relationships with others (especially those closest to you): honesty, generosity, compassion, loyalty, purity, patience, etc.
  • Relationship with self: responsibility (work, school, home, money), laziness, healthy discipline, etc.

2. You could arrange this examination by the three “W’s”:

  • Way – How did I treat people? How did I go about my business? In a Christ-like way?
  • Words – Were my words worthy of Christ?
  • Works – Were my decisions and actions in harmony with my mission as a Christian?

C. Thank God for the good that, with His grace, you were able to accomplish; ask for (and accept!) His forgiveness for your shortcomings and sins.

D. Renew your commitment to follow him even more closely tomorrow (if you can identify a specific resolution to make your commitment even more concrete, all the better).

There are two aspects I like about this method. First, that it isn’t just a mental exercise for you. It involves entering into the presence of God through meditation and asking the Holy Spirit to show you your faults and failings, where they lie, and their root causes. Secondly, it focuses on relationships and roles: with God, others and yourself. And, like the CPR method, comparing your actions against God’s will for you enables you to make a better resolution to grow closer to Christ, which, again, is what it’s all about.

I will conclude this series tomorrow with some thoughts on what the next step is after a good and thorough examination of conscience, namely, attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Stay tuned!

Just as you are taking precautions to prevent exposure to the Coronavirus and subsequent ailment, I urge you to take necessary precautions and protect your spiritual health as well. God bless you all.

(How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 3: The Analytical Method was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 2: The CPR Method

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On Monday I posted Spiritual Atrophy and the Need for an Examination of Conscience During Self-Isolation in which I emphasized the dangers of letting our spiritual lives decline and go flat since we cannot make it to Holy Communion. Unless a special effort is made we will experience a gradual decline that likely will lead to venial or mortal sin. Since the Ten Commandments are all about relationships with God and each other, any sin can damage those relationships. The mechanism we use to recognize our sins is called an Examination of Conscience.

In yesterday’s post, How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 1: The “Checklist” Method, I discussed the two types of sin: mortal and venial, and non-sins which we call imperfections, as well as general principles behind a good examination. And, I provided links to examples of questions, or “checklists”, that, when asked of ourselves and viewed from God’s perspective, will help identify our sins.

Because I was in a rush to finish the post I forgot to mention a couple things. First, the questions asked in this method are normally “Yes” or “No” questions. They are very specific and intended to pinpoint those actions for which you may not be too proud. They will not only expose your sins of “commission” (the things you did but shouldn’t have done), but also your sins of “omission” (the things you should have done but failed to do).

The second point I forgot to mention is that there are “checklists” designed for one’s particular state in life. Besides the general lists of questions for anyone, there are sets for children, young adults, singles and married people. An excellent place to find these is on the Laudate app which you can get for your mobile phone. It is an essential tool for anyone interested in consistently practicing and growing in their faith. A very good list for married people can also be found at Beauty So Ancient: A Wonderful Examination of Conscience for Married Couples.

By utilizing one of these lists of questions on a regular basis, a person can nearly memorize those areas that tend to come to the surface. It’s important to not skim over the small stuff. The small stuff can become big stuff.

Today, I want to introduce a second method called the CPR Method of examining one’s conscience. I discovered this method from the Laudate app. Unlike the “checklist” method, this one doesn’t ask specific “Yes” or “No” questions. Rather, it asks you to look at your day subjectively rather than objectively. (The following is copied directly from Laudate):

C = Claim Your Blessings

Reflect on the good things that happened to you today, and explicitly recognize God’s hand in them. He has been loving you every minute of the day, thinking about you, drawing close to you. Thank Him for the little blessings and the big ones. See His gaze of love directed toward you. Ask Him to help guide these few minutes of prayer.

P = Pinpoint Victories and Losses

Taking a kind of “helicopter” view of the activities of the day, examine how you lived them. Where were you selfish in your decisions, attitudes, words, and actions? Where were you virtuous and generous? Also, examine how you responded to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations throughout the day. As you do this, ask for (and accept!) God’s forgiveness for the times you gave in to selfishness or temptation, and thank Him for the graces He gave you to do good and to be faithful to His will.

R = Renew Your Loving Commitment to Christ

Finish by renewing your faith in God and your desire to know Jesus more clearly, to love Jesus more dearly, and to follow Jesus more nearly every single day. If possible, make a specific resolution (proposal of amendment) regarding something you will have to do tomorrow – something you can do to show Christ your love in a concrete way. End with an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the sign of the cross, or another favorite prayer.

This method is best practiced after one has spent some time using the previous method and getting used to their various faults. I particularly like this method because to begin requires placing yourself in the presence of God, recognizing His love for you, and returning your love back to Him. And, making a resolution in the third step is a sign to God that you really do want to make the effort to grow in virtue and closer to Him. As I mentioned yesterday, this is really what it’s all about – amending your ways and refraining from near occasions of sin in the future.

Tomorrow I will introduce you to the third method of examining your conscience: The Analytical Method.

God bless you all. Be safe and stay healthy. I pray you use some of your newly found free time growing close to God.

(How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 2: The CPR Method was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

The Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues

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Ever since this Coronavirus pandemic kicked in it seems our world has been turned upside down. Well, at least we’ve experienced out of the ordinary inconveniences. For us Catholics it’s been so disheartening to not be able to attend mass and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Many parishes have suspended hearing confessions, leaving our souls at risk. Throw in all the Bible studies, retreats, and social gatherings that have been canceled or postponed, and we’re all in a tizzy. But, for some of us, the worst nightmare of all has been missing the Parish Lenten Fish Fries. I know, I feel your pain.

I was rueing over this yesterday and my mouth began to water for that deep-fried flavor of filleted fish. Here in Ohio, folks prefer their fish beer battered, and sometimes there’s more batter than fish. Personally, I prefer a Southern fried corn meal breading. But, I’ll take what I can get. As I was pondering this, the line came to mind, “It really doesn’t matter if it’s corn meal or beer battered”, and I realized I had something around which I could build a future Billboard #1 hit song. Well, maybe I’ll post it at the top of my home bulletin board. Maybe.

But, I know so many of you share my angst about having to sip tomato soup on Fridays. I know you’d rather be at your parish hall loading up on fish and french fries and washing it down with a cold one. And, you miss catching up on all the gossip that you’d be confessing the next afternoon. So, I dedicate this little ditty to all of you fellow fish fry fanatics.

Oh, by the way, I can write lyrics but I have no musical ability. So, I have to steal tunes. This one is loosely fashioned around Jim Croce’s 1974 hit, “Working at the Car Wash Blues”. Maybe some of you baby boomers will remember it. If not, you can Google it.

The Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues – Lyrics by Jerry Robinson

Well, I was all fired up for the Lenten season,
Had my resolutions typed up neat,
Quitin’ ice cream, layin’ off a cold beer,
And on Fridays I’d abstain from meat.
I planned to fast all week so that I could eat
And stuff myself to the point of abuse,
But I don’t smell the grease fryin’, so now I be cryin’
And singin’ the Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues.
Now this COVID nineteen’s got the world in a mess,
Social distancing’s the new way to roll.
Now I’m stuck at the house and I have to confess
My home cookin’ simply got no soul.
My tastebuds are lackin’ and my lips ain’t a smackin’
On that delectable dish that I choose,
It really don’t matter, corn meal or beer batter,
When I got the Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues.
Yeah, it’s sacrifice and penance I still have to live
‘Cause the Lord gave it all up for me,
But this Co-rona-virus, man, it’s sure gonna try us!
When will the CDC set us all free?
And, this self-isolation has turned to frustration,
I hate it ‘cause I have to refuse
From trekkin’ on down to the church hall in town,
Now I got the Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues
Lord, You know I believe, so please send a reprieve
From these Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues!

I love you all! God bless! Enjoy your tomato soup!

(The Lonesome Lenten Fish Fry Blues was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2020 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.