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Posted April 7, 2011

Receive the Sacrament of God’s Mercy

By Bishop Sirba
Origins, March 31, 2011. Vol. 40. No. 42

An Excerpt from the Summary

“Lent is perhaps the only religious season yet to find a secular parallel,” Bishop Paul D. Sirba of Duluth, Minn., said in a Lenten message published in the March issue of the Northern Cross, the diocesan newspaper. “In truth, it is a little more difficult to package our mortality, repentance, conversion and penance for our sins in the context of a celebratory consumer season. Yet, on Ash Wednesday, even though it is not a holy day of obligation, more Catholics return to church to receive those ashes on the forehead than perhaps on any other day except Christmas and Easter. Refreshing, isn’t it?” Lent, he added, “speaks to a truth about God in relation to man tha we can spend a lifetime trying to understand — that God loves us even in our sinfulness.” The bishop said, “If we regard sin as a scratch, then redemption is just a Band-Aid. But if it is a mortal wound, then redemption is the ultimate unexpected rescue.”

An Excerpt from the Text:

Every Catholic of age of reason should take advantage of the sacrament of penance this Lent. It is the sacrament of God’s mercy.

In order to prepare your heart (there is even a new app for an examination of conscience out there), reflect on the seven capital sins or the Eight Beatitudes or the Ten Commandments and review your life. Ask God to show you where his grace is at work in you to free you from your sins.

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provide another wonderful examination of conscience:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [any sin] — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs [confession].

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcoming.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people where possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.