Last Lent the Holy Father gave a gift to people attending a prayer service at the Vatican. It was a small pamphlet, in Italian, about how and why to go to Confession. Titled “Safeguard your heart,” the booklet is meant to help people to become “courageous” and prepared to battle against evil and to choose the good. The Holy Father had the Vatican publishing house print 50,000 copies – I guess he wants the word to get around. So I’ll do my part: Here are some of the questions he suggested as a good way to prepare to receive the Sacrament:
Do I only turn to God when I’m in need?
Do I take attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?
Do I begin and end the day with prayer?
Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?
Do I rebel against God’s plan?
Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?
Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the “throwaway culture?”
In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?
Do I honor and respect my parents?
Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?
Do I respect the environment?
Am I part worldly and part believer?
Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?
Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?
How do I use my time? Am I lazy?
Do I want to be served?
Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?
Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?
The Holy Father knows that, if we want to become holy, we need to pay attention to the basics of living a decent life in our relationships with others. Devotion – even Mass – is meant to help that, but can never replace it. (As the abbot of a Buddhist monastery once said about the novices in training, “We don’t teach them to meditate until they learn to stop slamming doors.”)
Is this an invitation from the Pope to you? You can find the schedule for pre-Easter Confessions later on in the Bulletin. Pay special attention to this Monday, March 21, when there’ll be a priest waiting for you here, and in every church in the diocese, from 3 until 9pm. Until next week, peace.