9 April 2017: “The Pastor’s Page” by Fr. Shawn W. Cutler

Pieter Lastman’s “The Crucifixion”

I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace (Roman ritual, Sacrament of Penance, Formula for Absolution).

     These words of consolation spoken by the priest in the very name of Jesus Himself gives the penitent absolute assurance that the sins committed against God, who is all just and merciful, are blotted eternally from one’s soul. This assurance goes back directly to the night of the Resurrection when Jesus gave His Apostles authority to forgive sins in His name. He guaranteed that whatever they and their successors absolved would be loosed in heaven (see John 20:22-23).

     The common objection to going to Confession today involves the question why anyone should have to go to a priest and confess. Why can’t a person do that directly to God and obtain forgiveness? The answer involves the nature of the Church. Jesus could have immediately and on His own fulfilled His mission of dying and rising again for us without anyone noticing. However, that is not what He did. Jesus spent three years in His public life gathering His Apostles and disciples teaching them and demonstrating to them who God truly is. He was equipping them to carry on His mission after His Ascension into heaven and Pentecost. 

     The relationship that we have with God is not exclusively one-on-one, therefore. While we do, indeed, pray to God each day, this is not the extent of our relationship with Him. By Baptism, we are incorporated into the very Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. The Church continues the presence of Jesus and His works until He comes again. We are all part of His Body, the Church, and we all have a piece of His continuing mission in the world.

     Therefore, when we turn away from God, and say “no” to Him in whatever ways we sin, we also say “no” to our relationships that connect us to one another in charity to the Church. Therefore, there is no sin that is exclusively private. There is no sin that wounds only our connection with God. We also weaken or sever our self-giving and willingness to sacrifice for one another. That is why Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance on the night of the Resurrection to be handed on within the context of the Church at large. By going to the Church’s ministers (a bishop or priest) for absolution, the wounded relationships with God and His Church are restored. Only God could establish so perfect and yet so humbling an experience of reconciling our spiritual and natural life back to God and to one another as often as we need it!

     To prepare properly for Easter Sunday, therefore, everyone is encouraged to go to Confession. The following questions are offered as an aid to our thorough examination of conscience (taken and adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Confessions will be heard here at St. Marguerite on Good Friday 4:30-6pm and on Holy Saturday 3:30-4:30pm. 

     May you have a most blessed and holy week!

     Fr. Shawn William Cutler

 

For Adults & Parents

Responsibilities to God:

Have I gone to Mass every Sunday? Have I participated at Mass or have I daydreamed or been present with a blank mind?
Have I prayed every day?
Have I read the Bible? Have I studied the truths of our faith and allowed Jesus Christ to become more a part of the way I think and act? Have I read any spiritual books or religious literature?
Have I told God that I want to love him with my whole heart, mind and strength?

Have I participated in anything that is of the occult: ouija boards, fortune tellers, séances, channeling, astrology?
Do I hold any resentments toward God?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to enable me to live the Christian life, to be a proper husband/wife and parent, son/daughter?
Have I been financially generous to the Church? Have I participated in parish or religious activities?
Have I held resentments toward the Church or Church authorities? Have I forgiven them?

Responsibilities to my spouse:

Have I cared for my spouse? Have I been generous with my time? Have I been affectionate and loving? Have I told my spouse that I love him or her?
Have I been concerned about the spiritual well-being of my spouse?
Have I listened to my spouse? Have I paid attention to or asked about his or her concerns, worries, and problems?
Have I allowed resentments and bitterness toward my spouse to take root in my mind? Have I nurtured these? Have I forgiven my spouse for the wrongs he or she has committed against me?
Have I allowed misunderstanding, miscommunication or accidents to cause anger and mistrust?

Have I nurtured critical and negative thoughts about my spouse?
Have I manipulated my spouse in order to get my own way?
Have I tried to bully or overpower my spouse?
Have I spoken sharply or sarcastically to my spouse? Have I spoken in a demeaning or negative way?

Have I injured my spouse through taunting and negative teasing? Have I called my spouse harsh names or used language that is not respectful?
Have I physically abused my spouse?
Have I gossiped about my spouse?
Have I undermined the authority and dignity of my spouse through disrespect and rebelliousness?
Have I been moody and sullen?
Have I bickered with my spouse out of stubbornness and selfishness?
Have I lied or been deceitful to my spouse?
Have I misused sexuality? Have I used sexual relations solely for my own selfish pleasure? Have I been too demanding in my desire for sexual fulfillment? Have I been loving and physically affectionate in my sexual relations or have I used sexual relations in a way that would be demeaning or disrespectful to my spouse? Have I refused sexual relations out of laziness, revenge or manipulation?
Have I refused to conceive children out of selfishness or material greed? Have I used artificial means of contraception?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged others to have one?
Have I masturbated?
Have I flirted or fostered improper relationships with someone else, either in my mind or through words and actions?
Have I used pornography: books, magazines or movies?
Have I committed adultery?
Have I misused alcohol or drugs?
Have I been financially responsible?

Responsibilities to children:

Have I cared for the spiritual needs of my children? Have I been a shepherd and guardian as God has appointed me? Have I tried to foster a Christian family where Jesus is present in the home? Have I taught my children the Gospel and the Commandments of God?
Have I prayed with them?
Have I been persistent and courageous in my training and teaching?

Have I disciplined them when necessary? Have I been lazy and apathetic?
Have I talked with them to find out their problems, concerns and fears? Have I been affectionate toward them? Have I hugged them and told them that I love them? Have I played or recreated with them?
Have I been impatient and frustrated with them? Have I corrected them out of love in order to teach them what is right and good? Have I treated them with respect? Have I spoken to them in a sarcastic or demeaning way?
Have I held resentments against them? Have I forgiven them?
Have I been of one heart and mind with my spouse in the upbringing of the children? Or have I allowed disagreements and dissension to disrupt the training, educating and disciplining of our children?
Have I undermined the role of authority in the eyes of my children by speaking negatively against God, the Church, my spouse or others who hold legitimate authority over them?
Have I been a good Christian witness to my children in what I say and do? Or do I demand one standard for them and another for myself?
Have I been properly generous with my children regarding money and physical and material well-being? Have I been miserly? Have I been extravagant, thus spoiling them?

Responsibilities to society:

Have I been a Christian witness to those with whom I work or associate?
Have I held resentments and anger against those with whom I work, relatives or friends? Have I forgiven them?
Have I been unethical in my business dealings? Have I stolen or lied?
Have I had a proper Christian concern for the poor and needy?
Have I paid my taxes?
Have I fostered or nurtured hatred toward my “political” enemies, either local, national, or international?
Have I been prejudiced toward others because of race, color, religion or social status?

 

For Children and Younger Teenagers

Responsibilities to God:

Have I prayed every day?
Have I prayed my morning prayers and night prayers?
Have I prayed with my parents and family?
Have I been moody and rebellious about praying and going to Mass on Sunday?

Have I misused God’s name by swearing and cursing?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I have been tempted to sin?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me do what is right?

Responsibilities to others:

Have I been obedient and respectful to my parents?
Have I lied or been deceitful to them or to others?
Have I been arrogant, stubborn or rebellious?
Have I talked back to parents, teachers or other adults?
Have I pouted and been moody?
Have I been selfish toward my parents, brothers, and sisters, teachers, or my friends and schoolmates?
Have I gotten angry at them? Have I hit anyone, especially my other brothers/sisters?  Am I always fighting with my brothers/sisters in the home?
Have I held grudges or not forgiven others?

Have I gossiped about others?  Have I told stories about others that, even if they are true, I spread to embarrass or shame someone else?
Have I treated other children with respect or have I made fun of them and called them names?
Have I used bad language?
Have I stolen anything? Have I returned it?

Have I cheated on schoolwork and tests?

Have I been jealous and envious or spiteful of others or their abilities?
Have I performed my responsibilities, such as homework and household chores, with a pleasant attitude?
Have I been helpful and affectionate toward my family?
Have I been kind and generous with my friends?

 

For Older Teenagers

(in addition to the Examination of Conscience for Children and Younger Teenagers, we also include)

Have I engaged in sexual fantasies? Have I looked at others lustfully?
Have I read pornographic literature or looked at pornographic pictures, shows or movies?
Have I masturbated?
Have I lustfully kissed or sexually touched someone? Have I had sexual intercourse?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged another to have one?
Have I gossiped about others? Have I slandered anyone? Have I told lies about others? Have I mocked or made fun of others?
Have I been selfish or spiteful toward others? Have I been jealous?
Have I gotten drunk or taken drugs?
Have I participated in anything that is of the occult: ouija boards, fortune tellers, séances, channeling, astrology?
Have I been patient, kind, gentle, and self-controlled?
When my conscience told me to do something good, did I do it or did I ignore it?