All posts tagged: Confession

Everything Looks Different After Priestly Ordination

Since my priestly ordination, one of my favorite liturgical texts has become the Office of Readings for Bl. Miguel Pro, the Mexican Jesuit martyred for clandestinely administering sacraments to persecuted Catholics. Cobbled together from letters written shortly before his arrest, the reading centers on Pro’s amazement at the change wrought in him by the priesthood. Pro writes to a friend, “Everything begins to look different [after ordination], everything is seen from another angle, everything is shaped by wider, more generous, more spiritual horizons. You will not be the same as before: something more is going to flood your soul and change it.”  But lest his friend expect an instantaneous and effortless transformation, Pro adds, “I did not notice this change until I found myself in touch with souls . . . God our Lord chose to use me as his instrument to do good.” The priesthood for Pro was like seed planted once for all in his heart, yet requiring ministerial contact to flower in his imagination. That this would be the case for Pro, …

Handing Over to Satan

People, afflicted with an incomprehensible distress, Were throwing off their clothes on the piazzas so that nakedness might call For judgment. But in vain they were longing after horror, pity, and anger. —Czeslaw Milosz, “Oeconomia Divina,” New and Collected Poems The human mind can get used to anything, and can see whatever it decides to see, if it is tired enough, and motivated enough to leave things lay. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn to go play summer basketball as a high-schooler. In the pinched-cheek light, we dragged our heavy legs into some 90’s transport device, and stared blankly, sleepily out the window across the street. My buddy, who had spent the night with us to set out on the early trip, had his eyes fall on his SUV across the way. “Look at that,” he said, “some crazy dog is sleeping on the hood of my car.” Through the sliver of our puffy eyelids, our gaze rested on the seemingly slumbering canine, and for what seemed like anywhere between 15 minutes …

Hitting the Lenten Reset Button

It’s hard to believe, but there are less than two weeks left of this Lenten season. I don’t know about you, but this Lent has been a struggle for me. It seems like every which way I turn, there’s something luring me to indulge instead of fast (I had a stressful day and I want to eat my feelings!), tempting me to slack off instead of pray (It’s so late/early and I’m so tired!), or enticing me to spend money on myself instead of give to those in need (I’ve done really well with fasting and prayer—I deserve to treat myself!). There is something hard-wired within human beings that runs away from the difficult and retreats into the comfortable familiar. There is also something equally innate that is all-too-eager to excuse one’s own failures, to overlook one’s own flaws (something that, oddly enough, seems all-too-eager to condemn the failures and flaws of others). We are masters of rationalization and justification, and Lent—the Church’s annual invitation (challenge) to look at ourselves with an honest eye—somehow turns …

Three Steps to a Better Understanding of the Year of Mercy

The Year of Mercy is a call to action, but first of all, it is a call to contemplate the action of God. In the words of Pope Francis, “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.” But contemplation is really hard work; it takes tremendous effort to learn to receive well, to take up a posture of willed passivity in the manner of Jesus’ Immaculate Mother who “[heard] the Word of God and [acted] on it” (Lk 8:21; cf. Lk 1:26–56). God’s merciful action toward us frees us to act mercifully toward one another, and coming to know ourselves as recipients of God’s mercy teaches how to see the possibilities for merciful relationships in the first place. Therefore, I would like to propose three practices for taking up the challenge of contemplating divine mercy. These three practices are at once simple and demanding; in full, they affect our language, our silence, and our manners of accompaniment. By praying the psalms, adoring the Blessed Sacrament, and engaging in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we may …