The Good News

Welcome to The Good News Blogspot! The Good News is real and alive in my own life. Jesus has fulfilled in my life His promise of fuller and more abundant life (John 15), a quality of life I could not have created for myself. I invite you to share experiences with me so we can all grow into the life He offers us all.

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Catholic by call, Jesuit by nature, a preacher/spiritual conversation partner by choice. Learning about getting older, learning to live in the present moment, one day at a time. Learning to let go and laugh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

God Forgives Me. Can I Forgive Myself?

Comment from Adoro Te Devote:

"Something I, and many others I know struggle with is, when we leave the confessional, really BELIEVING that it's all gone, and how to simply accept that if we have made the best confession we can (imperfect contrition), knowing our vices are not broken, and yet not questioning that God has had mercy and that we can TRUST in that."

An excellent comment. Let’s begin with Scripture:

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, you whole body will be full of life; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23

When you leave the confessional, what are you seeing with your physical eyes and the eyes of faith? If you “see” with the eyes of faith that you have been forgiven, can you encourage your physical eyes to see the beautiful architecture of the church, the bright sunlight and blue sky, the children at play? If so, the goodness you see with your physical eyes will sustain and support the goodness your eyes of faith have “seen.”

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Hold that glory – the glory of forgiveness - before your eyes of faith.

The eye is the gatekeeper of the body. If your eyes are healthy, you will be full of life. If your eye of faith “sees” that God, who loves you, has forgiven you, then your eye of faith can even “see” that God has forgiven what you “meant” to confess, “partially” confessed, “confusedly” confessed.

What happens after you leave the confessional arises from your choice or intention. If you “see” only darkness, you will fill yourself with darkness. “If your eye offends you, pluck it out,” Jesus says sensationally. “Look only through your healthy eye.”

I too have these dark currents that threaten my happiness. See my posts A Mary Moment on a Martha Afternoon, October 17, 2006 and Mozart and Maelstrom: Mary and Martha II, October 22, 2006 on concrete steps I took in the face of fear and anxiety. Quick answer: let the Lord’s goodness and light in through the glory of creation.

An important note: Don’t worship your emotions! Feelings don’t always reflect reality. “I feel unloved,” but God loves you nonetheless. “I feel afraid,” but there may be nothing to fear. If there is an object or cause of fear, channel your anxiety into specific steps to respond to the object or cause. If not, tell the feeling to go away and leave you alone. “See” goodness. Take positive action. Drive the negative out.

Beware of creating a place for the Evil One to attack you. (See my post “The Devil Made Me Do It” November 1, 2006.) Evil takes advantage of negative emotions, including over whether we have confessed “enough,” to create unhappiness in us. St Ignatius suffered from serious scruples, but discovered that scruples came from Evil. “And since he (Ignatius) now had some experience of the differences in kinds of spirits through the lessons God had given him, he began to mull over the means through which the spirit had come. As a result he decided, with great clarity, not to confess anything from the past any more. Thus from that day onward he remained free of those scruples, holding for certain that Our Lord in his mercy had willed to liberate him.” The Autobiography of St Ignatius, para 25.

5 Comments:

Blogger Adoro Te Devote said...

Thank you, Father. Very well said!

10:06 PM  
Blogger UltraCrepidarian said...

Thank you father, for sharing.

I like to spend a few minutes before confession in prayer. Today the general intention was this: "Help me to experience your forgiveness in a fresh new way." After confession, I usually say a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys (which may have something to do with the usual habit of priests assigning this as a penance), and particularly focusing on a wordless thankfulness, and sense of gratitude, which is similar in a way to the sense I have after receiving Holy Communion; that I have just received the grace of God, and that whether I have the perceptiveness to notice or not, there's been a real change in me.

Actually it often feels exactly like a weight has been taken off me. The first confession I made was just prior to being received into the Church via RCIA in 2002. It was a watershed moment, to let go of a whole adult lifetime of confessed sins. Sometimes I shed tears of joy after going to confession. It's a powerful experience for me to go right from confession at 4:30 PM on saturday, to saying the rosary, and then attending Mass. It's kind of a prayer and sacramental Magnum Opus.

Warren

7:10 PM  
Blogger Fr. Ben Hawley, SJ said...

Ultracrepidarian,

Thank you for your stories in your current blog and the one you're no longer posting to. Many people have difficulty believing that God exists. How could one not believe after experiences like these? We don't liberate ourselves. It's all grace. It's all His love.
Lord, I am unworthy...

Fr Ben Hawley, SJ

7:50 PM  
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