Monday, August 24, 2015

The Inside of the Cup

By Melanie Rigney

“But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please men, but rather God, who judges our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

You have searched me and you know me, Lord. (Psalm 139:1)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
i - Amad. Gabrieli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest  all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. (Act of Contrition)

Warning:  Call to go to confession ahead.

Yeah, I know. It can be scary to tell all your deepest, darkest sins to a priest who also happens to be a friend. What if he lets something slip to someone else? Or, conversely, what if you confess to a priest who doesn’t know you from Adam, who won’t understand that you’ve made so much progress already? What if he yells at you? What if he refuses to absolve you? What if he gives you a penance that you just aren’t willing to do?

Then there’s the whole venue thing. What if you’re in the box, and he can’t hear you and asks you to speak up? What if someone who’s waiting can hear what you say? Or, what if you’re face to face and the priest’s eyebrows go up or he grimaces as you talk?

So, all too often, we decide to skip the whole sacrament… and just keep going to Communion at Mass anyway, but feel a little guiltier every time. Or we figure we’re basically good people who tithe and love our families and friends and total strangers and do service without complaint, most of the time anyway, so we just don’t need to go.

In short, we forget, as Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel reading, that the only way the outside of the cup can be truly clean is for the inside to be shiny and bright as well.

Please God. Clean your soul. Go to confession. You’ll feel so much lighter and better armed to do battle with the evil we all face daily.

If you have trouble with the wonderful sacrament of penance and reconciliation, consider approaching it in a different way. If you’ve always used the confessional, try face to face or vice versa. If you’ve always gone to a priest you don’t know, try going to one you do, or vice versa. If you regularly partake in the sacrament, add a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for giving us this beautiful opportunity to state our sins and intentions to overcome them with His help… and, with His grace, to watch those sins evaporate.

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