2nd Week of Lent, Monday

If you’ve never sinned and never done anything you regret, you can stop reading. I suspect everyone is still reading…

People joke about Catholic guilt, but guilt can he healthy for the soul if it leads to us seeking and accepting God’s mercy. Lent is a time for us to consider our failings and admit them, because that’s the only way we can be healed of them and help others be healed of their effects as well. In today’s First Reading Daniel’s prayer is directed to the Lord when Israel is in exile due to its sins, and Daniel doesn’t try to justify himself or his people.

They blew it. We’ve blown it. When we stand before the Judge we have no legal defense for what we’ve done or failed to do. All we can do is admit we’ve blown it and ask the Lord for mercy. It’s no surprise that we shy away from the sacrament of Reconciliation at times; nobody is proud of going into a confessional and admitting that he or she has sinned. Reconciliation brings closure and peace. When we shy away from admitting our sins, little by little we fall into one of two extremes: either we diminish their weight in our eyes until we don’t see them as sins at all, or we convince ourselves in some warped notion of justice that God will never forgive us for what we’ve done.

If you’ve slacked off on receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, Lent is a good time to return to it. Catholic guilt is not the last word; God’s boundless mercy is.

Readings: Daniel 9:4b–10; Psalm 79:8–9, 11, 13; Luke 6:36–38. See also 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday and 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.