Keeping a good and fruitful Lent - part 6

"confession" from the door of sacraments in St Peter's Basilica

Let us not forget that Lent is also about overcoming sin through grace. If you like we not only encourage new growth (virtue and fruits) but also need to prune back (confess).

All the things I have suggested so far in this guide are about encouraging virtuous exercises in our daily/weekly lives. Fasting should help us increase our self-mastery. But we also need to seek grace through confession. And there are two aspects to this I would recommend:

Sorry Lord, I did it again!

1. Daily examination:  we need to have a frank assessment of our day. If you do it only once a week you'll forget lots of things. Ask our Lord for light and then role through the day in your mind. Identify your sins and ask God for forgiveness. This should not take more than a few minutes. Over a number of days you will notice some sins repeat - make a note of them. Finally say sorry to God and ask for the grace to amend your life.

St 'Padre' Pio in the confessional

2. Sacrament of confession: During Lent go to confession more regularly. Why not try weekly? If you really want to conquer sin in your life you need grace, and the special grace for this is found through this sacrament. Even if you have not committed a mortal sin, you still need grace to overcome sinful habits. Of course you must confess grave sins but you would benefit from confessing your worst venial sins too, especially those you keep repeating. There might be a particular sin you want to overcome in grace? Well keep a tally of how many times you commit it. This can help you assess whether you are getting better before you've managed to overcome it entirely. Habits of sin can take time to deal with, so keeping a tally can be an encouragement.

I know we are only obliged to go to confession once over the paschal period, but let us not settle for the minimum, with regard to confessing let us strive for the best this Lent!

Lenten counsel no 6 - Take sin seriously! Don't just try to forget it. Our Lord wants us to not sin at all. While that seems understandably a far off goal, we do need to take steps towards it. We won't if we forget our sin. So a daily examination is most essential. Say sorry and ask for grace. And then go to the sacrament of confession for the grace to really change your life. It really does work - the Saints have proven it!

[For those in Plymouth I am opening Christ the King every Thursday evening (7-9pm) for adoration and I'll be available to hear confessions. We also hear confessions before and after mass at 12noon Mon - Fri and on Sunday morning, 11.30]
Fr Ian

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