A lot happened to me and the rest of the Catholic world between late September when I went to Reconciliation and my visit this past Monday evening with one of our priests during confession time. The excitement of the election and the daily challenges of making a living in this economy have been significant distractions for me the last few months. The result of the presidential race sent me into an emotional funk as I was forced to reconcile myself to four more years of attacks on our religious freedom and an economic direction I believe is horribly wrong for our country. All of this stress was compounded by the heavy burden of sins I was carrying with me as I sought peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
As I spoke with the priest and began to confess my sins, it became painfully obvious to me (and him) that my problems of late were of my own making. My sinful behavior was controlling my emotions, influencing my actions, stealing my peace and creating obstacles between Christ and me. After I unburdened myself and did my penance, I walked out of our parish chapel with a lighter spirit and a renewed focus on serving Christ and His Church. I felt like I had regained my Catholic identity.
I wonder how often we reflect on the impact sin has on our behavior… how it destroys our peace and eats away at our relationship with Christ. When I am in this kind of rut, I begin to experience dryness in my prayer life. I make excuses for not reading Scripture and other books on our Catholic faith. My enthusiasm for sharing my faith with others becomes dampened under the burden of the sins I am carrying. I don’t feel and show gratitude to others. My relationship with Christ is negatively affected and the joy I should feel gives way to nagging self-doubt and guilt – all because of sin. I am ashamed to admit that I feel like I am going through the motions at times when the weight of sin becomes too great. These bad habits which creep in are my warning signs; do I heed these warnings fast enough?
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today and think about what we are grateful for, let’s take a moment and reflect on how we are doing at truly living our Catholic faith. Are we guided by the teachings of the Church? Attend Mass every Sunday if not more frequently? Attend Mass on all Holy Days of Obligation? Truly celebrate the Sacraments? If the answer is no to these questions, is it our propensity for sin and the influence of the secular world getting in the way?
Yes, we are all sinners and we all fall short, but the challenges before us require that we authentically live out our faith every day. When we allow sin to dominate our lives, we put barriers between Christ and ourselves. We allow pride to dominate our lives and we sinfully take credit for our successes instead of giving them up to God’s glory. We stand in the Catholic Cafeteria line and pick and choose what teachings of the Church we will follow. We begin to blend in with the secular world and forget that we are made for Heaven and not this world. This is the wrong path. The Church, the Sacraments and the love of Christ can lead us back.
So, what am I grateful for this Thanksgiving in light of my recent course correction after Reconciliation?
I am grateful for a God who loves me.
I am grateful for the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I am grateful for my family and friends who love and care about me.
I am grateful for faithful priests who teach the hard truths of our faith and hold us accountable.
I am grateful to know the final victory is already won, but realize that we have struggles ahead of us and our faith will be sorely tested.
As one of the co-founders of The Integrated Catholic Life™, I thank you for the prayers and support you offer for the work Deacon Mike and I try to do. I will keep you all in my prayers this Thanksgiving and hope that we will have the courage to live up to the responsibilities of our Catholic identity in the challenging days ahead.
Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was recently released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online and your local Catholic bookstore.
The Catholic Briefcase was recently voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith will be released by Liguori Publications on November 29th, 2012 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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