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December 4th, 2011

Evidence of Repentance

Evidence of Repentance

Repentance turns our life upside down and makes changes in the premises we live.

The curtain raiser to God’s plan of salvation for human kind starts with the ‘voice of one crying out in the wilderness’- the Proclamation of John the Baptist. When the Pharisees and Sadducees who were the ‘doers’ of the Law approached John for getting baptized, he gives a very thought provoking reprimand to them in Matthew3:8 “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” Repentance takes the central place in the script of New Testament. Without repentance, there is no salvation. ‘Confess your sins, repent and believe in the Kingdom of God’- is the message Jesus used to drive into our hearts time and again in His ministries through the Gospels.

The Holy Spirit prompts through this word of God that ‘Evidence of repentance is Good Fruit’. The fruit implied by John the Baptist is explained vividly in the letter of St Paul to the Galatians- Gal 5:22-25 “…the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”

Confession and Intercession

Repentance consists of two ingredients-Confession and Intercession. To get completely cleansed and healed for being ready to be the partakers of the Kingdom of God, these two aspects in repentance are mandatory. Mere confession neither amount to repentance nor is the evidence of repentance. What God wants is a ‘repentant’ heart and not a mere ‘confessional’ heart.

God wants our acts to vouch for our repentance. Or in other words, our confession only when edified with our acts witnessing the Holy Spirit would tantamount to true repentance. James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” If we confess and intercede, then we will be healed.

Traits of True repentance

The post-confessional life should be an earnest endeavour to live in the Spirit and NOT in the flesh. If we have to follow the Spirit, we have to manifest the Fruits of the Spirit as narrated in Gal 5:22-23. This implies that a man who has true repentance would do the following:-

(a) Confess the sins

(b) (i) Be Peaceful – with others & with oneself without crucifying time and again the inner self with remorse even after confession. (ii) Be Joyful (iii) Be Patient – while dealing with others and with oneself. (iv) Be Kind – to others and with oneself-not being a severe critic of oneself leading to self-effacing traits leading to low self esteem and diffident personality. (v) Be Generous – towards others, exemplifying the adage-‘if you are really big, show that you are big at heart’. (vi) Be Faithful – to God and your assigned role on this earth so as to give your best in the race, running and to win the victory prize of being put right with God as said in Phil3:14, 2Timothy4:7-8. (vii) Be Gentle – to others. (viii) Having Self-control – to crucify the alluring of flesh. (ix)  Having Love – for others and for oneself.

To find an epitome of all these fruits being manifested in a human form other than Jesus Christ, one could look towards Mother Mary. Intercession is an aspect of not only praying for others, but also intervening in the lives of others with the fruits of the Holy Spirit so as to be of help to them. An example of this kind of intercession is the visit of Mother Mary to Elizabeth to be of help to her during the advanced days of the latter’s confinement. We just need to imitate her and we would be manifesting the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. And that is why Jesus says at the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, in Mark 1:15 “Repent and Believe in the Gospel”.

If your repentance is true, you would bear good fruit. A true repentance with the two key ingredients mentioned above, leads to healing of wounds. Repentance in true sense is cleansing of one’s own heart. Only the one who is inflicted with wounds cause wounds to others, but a person who is healed won’t cause harm unto others. So, absolute absolution of the repentant sinner manifests as fruits of the Spirit. The fruits are further elaborated by Jesus Christ in Luke 6:27-42, as to how a repentant person should behave.

Expectations of Jesus Christ, Our Lord

If a repentant person does not deliver good fruits, he/she would end up as the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14. Don’t wait like the fig tree and pretend as to not to bear fruits since it is not the season of figs. Don’t wait for the entire world and society to change, for you to change-because, it is the fruits of the Spirit that Jesus looks in your repentance when He comes looking for the lost sheep! Don’t say at that time “I could not change as the society around me didn’t allow me to”.

Remember, Jesus has said that we have to witness Him to a hurting world. We have a duty to pray for the world so that the world also changes-the power of intercession! You change the world through what you are- Matt 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven”.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to do a good confession. Abba Father, help me to manifest the Fruits of Your Spirit through my behavior as a sign of my repentance. Mother Mary, pray for me to have true repentance. Amen.”

– – – written by G. Sanal, Tughlakabad, Newdelhi

February 2nd, 2011

The Joy of Forgiveness

The joy of forgiveness

People spend lot of money to escape from the evil fruits of Sin; Why do they not go for a Confession?

At the age of nine I made my first confession, just a couple of days prior to my first Holy Communion. Thereafter my mother instructed me to go for confession once a month. I followed it to the letter. This went on just like a routine! I did not experience any special attraction. But since my mother was very pious and she went for confession regularly I too did so.

Something happened during a charismatic retreat: the preacher spoke on sin and the relevance of confession in the life of a Christian. This talk really touched the core of my heart! He elucidated his points with certain examples. In European countries and in the States when Christians visit psychiatrists and psychologists they insist that their clients go for confession prior to their therapeutic reviews! It was quite an amazing thing for me that these people, at least some of them being non-Catholics, recommend their clients to go for confession!

A good number of people write about their very deepest thoughts and feelings in diaries or letters but do not reveal the personal side of themselves even to the close friends they see every day. A growing number of Americans pay millions of dollars to therapists and self-help groups so that they can share secrets. But we Christians are blessed; we have priests to hear our confession, without paying a single penny! But very often we lose this channel of divine grace. From this example taken from the secular and scientific world I understood the value of this Sacrament of great blessings in a better way.

In everybody’s life there is an urge to disclose one’s own thoughts and feelings to some one whom they can trust. Hiding our thoughts and feelings can be unhealthy. Inhibition of one’s thoughts and feelings is a physical work requiring a lot of physical energy. Inhibition affects short-term biological changes and long-term health. It negatively influences thinking abilities.

The opposite pole of active inhibition is confrontation. In confrontation the individual is able to actively think and talk about significant experiences as well as acknowledge one’s emotions. Confrontation reduces the effects of inhibition. It forces a rethinking of events. In short we can affirm that confessing one’s transgressions and sins are contributive to a person’s spiritual, psychological and even physical life.

During that retreat the preacher advised us to write down our sins on a piece of paper as we prepare for confession which will stand us in good stead to go for a fruitful confession. Usually if I forget to mention any of the sins I feel bad so this helps me avoid such problems. Thereafter even today I go with a piece of paper. He also instructed us: “pray at least one rosary for the priest who hears our confession at least one day before the confession. This will help him to be another Christ to you during your confession”. Henceforth, I always experience so much of relief, peace, inner freedom, consolation, rebuilding of broken relationships, spiritual renewal and empowerment from each confession. Whereas after committing sin we lose our peace, freedom, break our relationship with God and fellow human beings. Eventually we become sickly.

Once, somebody asked a holy man: “are you a sinner today?” He replied: “I was a sinner who used to run after sin; today also I am a sinner who runs away from sin”. Once forgiveness is granted, the forgiven person has to pray for freeing himself from the memories of the past sinful experience. Above all, he has to forgive himself. As it was revealed to Peter, “what God has made clean, you must not call profane” (Acts. 10:15).

Each confession provides us ample opportunity to run away from sin. In his famous book, Witness to Hope, late Pope John Paul II writes: “when a man goes down on his knees in the confessional because he has sinned, at that very moment he adds to his own dignity as a man. No matter how heavily his sins weigh on his conscience, no matter how seriously they have diminished his dignity, the very act of turning again to God is a manifestation of the special dignity of man, his spiritual grandeur…the grandeur of the personal meeting between man and God in the inner truth of conscience”.

The Seal of confession is still a mystery in the Church. There are priests who became insane; there are priests who left the priesthood; there are priests who may fall into sin but so far it is not reported that any of them broke confessional secrecy! The Church and the Code of Canon Law take strong measures against those who divulge the secrecy of the confession as well as those who violate the holiness of this sacrament. By the very fact of such violation that priest is excommunicated!

Hence this Sacrament is God’s miraculous gift to Christians and to the Church! Let us enjoy the abundant gifts of divine graces from this celestial fountain in a worthy manner. “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed….My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”(James 5:16&19).

Read about Confession Tips

– – – written by Bro.Vineesh Joseph

January 13th, 2011

Poem : My Child I Forgive

My Child I Forgive

Lord I am your Child
You put me in the Palm of your hand
And you go before the heart of God the Father
With all my darkest longings and confessions.

The darkness I confess
Is shed in the presence of your light,
And relinquishes my stain!

As I confess, I am cleansed
By your precious blood
Once again.

And I will partake in the Communion meal,
At peace and reconciled with the Father
And His unending Love and Mercy.

– – – written by Cyndi Robinson

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