I am blessed to have a husband who lets me get away. And lets me get away for the important things. Once a month (unless morning sickness stops me), I head out the door around 7pm to Fr. Baker's women's evening of reflection. It is a moment I look forward to each month. The evening includes a talk, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Confession and quiet prayer time, followed by another short talk. Many of my most favorite women are there and it's super uplifting to be around them and pray with them.
This week the first talk was on Confession and the second talk focused on mortification. For me, it was the perfect Lenten reflection. My memory is poor these days, but let me highlight what my heart interpreted from it all... and maybe it will inspire you as well.
It is one of our most intimate moments with Christ. We are face to face with Him. We are humbling ourselves to tell Him, not only what we did wrong, how we failed to do something, but most importantly to tell Him how we personally hurt Him. We not only affect ourself or the others around us when we sin, but we hurt the person of Jesus. It is very personal. And it is healing for us to go face to face with Him and say we are sorry. It is a true grace and gift that many of us don't unwrap enough.
Get to the point. As women we tend to... ya know... tell the WHOLE story, with lots of details and surrounding circumstances and excuses. No excuses in the Confessional. Just say it. What did you do? How many times? Name it and count it. You are not there to confess someone else's sins.
And be specific (but with no excuses). It's much like visiting our doctor. We can't just go in and say, "I hurt." We need to tell him where and for how long and to what degree. It helps the physician heal us if he knows more.
Lastly, the best thing to help us make a good Confession is to do a daily examination of conscience. It only takes 3-4 minutes. But, at the end of your day, speak with Christ about what you did, what you failed to do, and how you could love better. This way we can pull it out of our file box when we get to the Confessional. I loved the way Fr. Baker compared it to the expense reports we use to do there. Throughout the month we would collect the receipts from everything we spent and at the end of the month we would gather them all for the expense report. It was like the moment of truth... you look and see, wow, maybe I did spend a lot on "food" or way more on "that" then I thought. This is how the daily exam helps. We can then "gather our sins" better the next time we go to Confession and it helps us remember what we are really struggling with. Make sense? I hope.
The second talk really helped me too. It is super popular these days to make a huge deal about "giving something up" during Lent. And I wonder if what I gave up is more noble and more sanctifying than what you gave up?!! Haha. Basically, what Fr. Baker explained is that our so called "fasting" or "mortification" that is soley voluntary could easily lead to pride... thinking, wow, we are really totally awesome because we are giving up so much or what we are giving up is way super harder than what you are doing. He spoke of a holy priest he knew who said that if you normally eat 10 cookies a day, Lent is the time to now only eat 9. And if you normally drink 2 cups of coffee, Lent is the time to only drink 1 1/2. It is a time to make small sacrifices that no one notices. Another thing this priest would do was give up something totally different at each meal, so no one ever knew what he was sacrificing. Pretty clever. Point being... don't get too carried away... or your pride will get in the way.
Because he reminded us of something I forget so often, which is super important... which are our INVOLUNTARY MORTIFICATIONS. Yes, there is something very different and important about these.... We do not choose them, but Our Lord and God does. And He knows what we need. And He knows best how to sanctify us. So, instead of focusing so much on what I have volunteered myself to give up or do during Lent (which I am still sticking to of course) I have decided to also remember to accept more lovingly and most important... MORE PATIENTLY, the daily mortifiations Christ has personally given me. Changing poop diapers, cleaning the kitchen, being tired from pregnancy, and the list goes on... but, you know, those tough things that are already built right into your day, that you and I tend to sometimes hate and avoid and not accept with a heart of patience and love. This is really important to focus on during Lent.
Thank you, Fr. Baker, for your fidelity to us women. For being there every month so we can encounter Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, hear His voice through yours and experience the healing of the Sacrament of Confession...