First Down (February 11, 2018)

Dear Friends,

The season of Lent is one of renewal, conversion and penance, and for Catholics, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of Lent. It is a sacrament that at times is not fully understood, as many people have different experiences of forgiveness, mercy and peace. Not every Catholic approaches this sacrament with peace, joy and knowing its powerful place in our lives. Yet, I want to offer one insight that may help many Catholics.

With 40 days of Lent, when is the best time for someone to go to confession? Some wait until the last possible moment. One reason someone might wait would be feeling cleansed to receive communion on Easter, thinking it is better to have no sin on one’s soul on such a special day. So what happens the other 39 days? The power of this sacrament is deeper than cleansing one for a special Mass.

I would recommend going right as the season begins. Lent is the time to look within our lives and see where we need to grow, change priorities, be open to healing and know that in spite of our failings God is right there loving and guiding us. In other words, the spirit of God is helping us during these 40 days, and when one works on these things during Lent, we are doing what is suppose to happen. God wants us to work on our lives, and that does not mean we will arrive at cleanliness, holiness and worthiness in enough time to receive Holy Communion. It means that we approach God knowing that throughout Lent we have been working on being the person God wants us to be.

We approach God with our lives saying we have been working on areas of our lives that need change. God looks at the efforts, the struggles and the shortcomings and is pleased. In all honesty, is God really impressed that we went to confession at the last minute and not starting Lent with the grace of the sacrament to help us during the remaining 39 days? Our worthiness comes from just trying, being open to grace that will help us, putting into practice our faith with Lent as our guide.

Someone who goes to this Sacrament early in Lent and commits to just working on their lives is doing the will of the Father in heaven. One who has worked on this is more than acceptable to God on that great Easter day. Confession is more than feeling we have taken a shower and feel clean for the moment, it is showing a body of work that says Lord I did my best during these 40 days.

Going to Confessions earlier in Lent can be a much better approach than being all stressed in trying to get this done at the last minute. Try it. I think it will be meaningful in knowing more about God’s mercy and how it works in our lives.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric