“The Sacrament of Penance fosters the mature recognition of sin, continuous conversion of heart, growth in the virtues, and conformity to the mind of Christ.”
Now that we are halfway through Lent, our good intentions may be wavering and we must push forward even though the initial excitement may be gone. By now, we’ve realized that we can survive without the comfort that we gave up. Though, we are still tempted to turn back to search for comfort in our material things.
As we try to grow in the habit of virtue, we know that it takes many weeks to build an effective habit. We are here for something greater than a habit, though, we are here to perfect our capacities so that we might grow closer to God. Lent isn’t over. We have three more weeks to live in this new rhythm of life. We’ve stripped away something that was tying us to this world, and now it is time to move forward and see how God can fill the hole that was left. But how do we keep going, especially if we have lost heart and failed multiple times already?
At college seminary, we place an important emphasis on the sacrament of confession and the daily examination of conscience. These tools help us to renew our commitment and practice human virtue in service of the Christian life.
“The Sacrament of Penance fosters the mature recognition of sin, continuous conversion of heart, growth in the virtues, and conformity to the mind of Christ. It is a school of compassion that teaches penitents how to live out God’s compassionate mercy in the world. The frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is aided by the practice of a daily examination of conscience.”
As part of their spiritual formation, seminarians are expected to frequent the sacrament of confession. This encourages frequent self reflection and growth, so that the habit of virtue can be reinforced. This sacrament heals the individual and renews the whole Church.
“This sacrament reconciles us with the Church… It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.”
To aid in the growth of virtue, the seminarians also do a brief daily examination of conscience. This is a time to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and evaluate virtue in our lives.
“Seminarians are trained to live life reflectively and to examine, with regularity, their behavior, their motivations, their inclinations, and, in general, their appropriation of life experience, especially suffering.”
Take Action this Week:
- Make time in your schedule to receive the Sacrament of Penance before Easter.
- Implement a daily examination of conscience this week to evaluate your growth and failings in living virtue. St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended a five step exam in his Spiritual Exercises:
- Thank God for the gifts received
- Ask for the grace to know and recognize our faults
- Review the events of the day
- Ask God’s pardon for offenses and sins of omission
- Make a practical resolution to live tomorrow better