“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”
I had a wonderful experience at St. Edward’s Parish in Pembroke Pines, FL this weekend for their ManUp2015 conference. It was wonderful to be with a group of men striving for holiness. Statistics say that if a father takes his faith seriously and practice it regularly, about 75% of their children will practice their faith. On the other hand, if the father does not practice his faith at all, only 4% of his children will practice the faith. We have a crisis in the role of husbands and fathers in this country and it is time for us to take our role seriously to accomplish the goal of marriage – to help our spouse and children get to heaven.
As we move into the second week of our spiritual spring training, we should take a look at how things are going. Am I keeping up with my Lenten fast so that it is helping me grow spiritually? Am I practicing the basics of the faith – prayer and fasting – so that my relationship with Jesus is deepening? Do I need to go to confession?
Today’s fundamental is reviewing our conscience. The prophet Daniel is speaking to the Israelites about how far they have strayed from God’s commandments. “We are shamefaced…for having sinned against you.” Daniel, in the prophetic tradition, was speaking the truth to the people. He was speaking for their consciences, helping them recognize how far they have strayed.
One of the problems in our culture is that we have lost the sense of sin. We often compare ourselves to others and say, “At least I am not that bad.” Minimalism has weakened our senses as we try to do the least possible in order to get to heaven. And yet, Jesus calls us to be holy as His heavenly Father is holy. He calls us to greatness.
Part of this growing in holiness is recognizing that sin separates us from God. Matthew Kelly says that every thought, word and action either bring us closer to God or further away. If we consciously choose every thought, word and action to bring us closer to God, we grow in virtue and holiness. Every moment at work can be offered to God as a prayer. Every thought can be directed to loving others and giving glory to God. Every word we speak can encourage and build up another person. These are actions that help us grow in holiness.
Do you need to go to confession?
Are you growing in holiness by every thought, word and action?
Is your spiritual spring training helping you develop discipline in the spiritual life?
Lord, we rely on your “compassion and forgiveness”. We trust in your mercy, but we do not want to take it for granted. Shine your light into our hearts that we may know where we have strayed. Give us a healthy view of our sinfulness in light of your love. And give us the courage to confess our sins to stay on the path and live in your grace.