Monday, June 23, 2014

I Confess to Almighty God

I bowed my head as I recalled the times I failed to love.  Together we raised our voices:

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; 
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Today, I will begin new.  Today, I will love neighbor and God.  Sin:  A Hebrew word translated into English as sin literally means "missing the mark."  Sin is falling short of God's will for human life.  In the Bible, as strange as it sounds to modern ears, the word sin actually implied hope.  If an action were condemned as sinful then the person could repent, change the situation, and be made new.   In a world that believed in the powers of fate controlled by gods and the powers of earth, sin was a word that inferred the possibility of healing, repentance, and change.  Our God offered us free will, in contrast to the gods of fate. 

To clearly discern our calling to religious life we must strive to be free from sin.  When we fail, miss the mark, break our commitment to love, ignore justice, and fall into sin, it fractures our relationship with God and other people.  We are then not able to clearly discern because to know God's will is to know God. 

God is love (1 Jn 4:8).  The true nature of discernment is experiencing how God is calling us to love and be loved.  Am I being called to love and be loved as a religious brother or priest?  Am I being called to love and be loved as a diocesan priest or deacon?  Am I being called to love and be loved by a spouse and children?  Or am I being called to love and be loved as a single man?  Love is the key to discernment and sin is the lock that prevents it.

The path to healing begins with repentance-the intention to change and be made new.  Repentance is a commitment to sin no more, to change our lives, and to offer restitution (Deut 5:32-33). To be repentant is to accept God's invitation to start over, to change our mind and heart, to be reconciled with God.  Therefore, the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is essential for all men and women in discernment. 

Jesus, through the action of the priest, invites us to release the past, be forgiven, and reject sin (Jn 8:11).  Jesus bestowed on the Apostles and the Church the power to forgive and to liberate souls from the burden of sin through the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Jn 20:23). This is God's gift to us, an invitation to be free and to ask to be liberated from guilt and broken relationships our sin caused.   Then we are more clearly able to love God and neighbor and in the process experience how we are being called to love and be loved.

The sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is essential
for all men and women in discernment. 

Peace and all good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

Personal Reflection:
Use the Peace Pray of Saint Francis to examine your conscious.  Simply ask, "When there has been hatred, have I contributed to it or brought peace?" and continue on in this manner throughout the prayer.  Feel free to share your experience of this examination in the comment spaces below.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422

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