Friday, July 13, 2012

Cleanse Me

Cleanse Me

 July 13, 2012
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (Psalms 51:3-4)

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. (Act of Contrition)

When was the last time you went to confession—or, rather, when was the last time you received the amazing sacrament of reconciliation?

Research has shown that only about a quarter of Catholics follow the Church guidance to go to confession annually, and less than 10 percent go monthly. Anecdotally, confession is one of the main barriers for those considering a return to an active Catholic faith life. For most, time spent in the dark box or face to face with a priest detailing one’s sins is not a fond memory.

Personally, I fall into that in-between group—I go at least once a year, but certainly not monthly. But as I read Psalm 51 for today’s column, I found myself wondering why. The first time I ever read those beautiful words was in December 2005 when I attended my first-ever reconciliation service and was standing in line for my first adult confession. Earlier in the day, I’d been trying like mad to recall from childhood the Act of Contrition, and for some reason kept getting tripped up on the “who are all good and deserving of my love part.” The handout for the evening included Psalm 51, and I found myself reading those words over and over again as I stood in line: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness.” Somehow, that perspective—asking for forgiveness, then letting God do His thing—resonated.

I still don’t say the Act of Contrition when I go to confession, and I’ve yet to have a priest try to force me to do it. But I always feel that same sense of joy and freedom at the end as I did that night in December. And I wonder why I don’t make more time for this sacrament in my life. How about you?

Resolve to go to confession at least once this month.

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