Ten Tips on How to Confess Well

St. Mary, Star of the Sea parish offers the opportunity to confess your sins and pray for God’s Graces every Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. I am offering the following tips to help you make a good confession (taken from an article on Mercy and Confession by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV.)

IMPROVEMENT/UPGRADING THE RECEPTION: As Catholics, two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments, we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make a concerted effort to improve our encounters with Jesus in these Sacraments. In other words, we should never take these Sacraments for granted. Also, be keenly aware of the concept of dispositive grace. The abundance of graces are received in direct proportion to the disposition of the recipient. On the walls in the sacristies of the Missionaries of Charity is written: “Say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” We can apply the same principle: “Confess as if it were your first, last and only time.”

PRAYERS BEFORE: All is grace! A source of abundant grace is the Communion of saints. Why not pray to the holy Confessors to help you to make a good confession. Pray to them to help you to confess well—that each confession you make is better than your prior confession.

PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE: Have a good examination of conscience booklet. Find a quiet and contemplative place to examine your conscience. Utilize the crucifix and Divine Mercy image to elicit sorrow and trust. Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional. Also, pray for your confessor—to his guardian angel—before you enter the confessional!

SELF-KNOWLEDGE: One of the classical steps to make a good confessional is contrition but also firm purpose of amendment. This entails rewinding the film of your life and seeing the various falls into sin. But also to capture what were the preceeding causes that led to the sin. You will notice often a pattern that is to know oneself and even supply for the necessary knowledge to avoid the near occasion of sin.

BIBLICAL PASSAGES TO PREPARE: The Church highly recommends the use of Sacred Scripture as a means to prepare us for a better reception of the Sacraments. Two excellent passages that are recommended: Lk. 15 and Psalm 51. Luke 15 presents the Parables of God’s Mercy, and the greatest is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By praying Psalm 51, you have one of the best “Acts of Contrition” ever composed, by none other than King David after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and killing an innocent man. Praying the Word of God adds extra power to one’s prayer!

FREQUENT CONFESSION: The saints highly recommend frequent confession as a most efficient means of growing in sanctifying grace. Confession either restores sanctifying grace or augments it. Of course, this presupposes a thorough preparation!

SACRAMENTAL GRACE: Each sacrament communicates grace. However, every sacrament communicates a specific grace pertinent to that sacrament. For example, the grace communicated in the Eucharist is that of Nourishment. The Sacramental grace in Confession is HEALING! Jesus came to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Time and time again in the Gospels we see Jesus healing.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD CONFESSION: In the Diary of St. Faustina, the most important qualities of a good confession are complete sincerity and openness, humility, and obedience. Adhering to the qualities, one cannot go wrong!

AVOID DISCOURAGEMENT: Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some badhabits have possibly clung to use for decades. Change is often tedious, laborious, and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin.

MARY AND MERCY: Never forget to invite Mary to be present in your remote preparation for Confession, your immediate preparation for Confession. Even ask Mary to enter with you into the Confessional so that you can make the best confession in your life. Among the many beautiful titles of Mary are the following: Mother of Mercy, Mother of Good Counsel, Health of the Sick. Behind many powerful conversations is of course the grace of God but also the maternal intercession of Mary!

Pentecost: A Stewardship Feast to Celebrate

A challenge for the Christian steward is accepting, and even rejoicing in, the fact that our commitment to faith is often a counter-cultural one. Perhaps this is nowhere more striking than in the quick cultural “end” of the Easter season, and our own belief that Easter is leading us through May to the great feast of Pentecost on May 24.

We see this discordance in many Christian celebrations adapted by the popular, commercial culture. While we are still enjoying the season of Christmas and looking forward to Epiphany, most American homes have taken the Christ¬mas tree to the recycling center and moved on to thoughts of Valentine’s Day. During the sacrificial early days of Lent, there’s something jarring – yes, just wrong – about all those pastel Easter eggs and bunnies appearing in stores. And all that chocolate!

So, as Christian stewards, we feel no surprise that as we break our Easter fast and begin our meditation on the Resurrection, we find that the stores have tucked those chocolate bunnies away on discount shelves, and we’re off to the next commercially competitive venture. And as the great feast of Pentecost beckons us, we realize that the society around us gives

this occasion hardly a passing nod. Apparently, there’s no money to be made from Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came among the apostles and imbued in them the courage to be true followers of Christ. Cour¬age, strength, faith, the Spirit – these are hard to market in the public square, aren’t they? The willingness to live and ultimately to die as martyrs for Christ, as the apostles did, these are things that are hard to package in bright pa¬per. They don’t fit well in the greeting card aisle.

Perhaps during these days of May when we as Catholic stewards continue to celebrate the season of Easter and look forward to Pentecost, we might examine our own willingness to step outside the culture in our celebration of great Christian feast days. Keep the reminders of the Resurrection around you. Let your family prayer reflect the marvels of the season. Help your children to be aware of the liturgical cal¬endar. Explain to them the meaning of the changing colors of the priests’ vestments. Dress up in red for Pentecost Sunday. But most importantly, educate yourself and your family on how powerful it is to understand and celebrate the great markers and mysteries of our shared faith experience.

Feed My People

The Church calls on us to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church has named these acts of charity the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Part of being a good Christian Steward is sharing our abundance with others, which some call “paying it forward”.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy:
• Correct the Sinner
• Instruct the Ignorant
• Counsel the Doubting
• Comfort the Sorrowful
• Be Patient with Those in Error
• Forgive Offenses
• Pray for the Living and the Dead

The Corporal Works of Mercy:
• Feed the Hungry
• Give Drink to the Thirsty
• Shelter the Homeless
• Clothe the Naked
• Visit the Sick
• Visit the Imprisoned
• Bury the Dead

I was approached very recently by Kim Mikulka and Marlyn Delo, parishioners who are part of our Stewardship Team and also involved in other groups and ministries. They asked if they could revitalize our Parish Food Program. Of course, I answered immediately with a resounding “YES!”

The call to Feed the Hungry takes on many forms. It can be writing a check to feed orphans in Nepal. (I remember raising money as a child for the “pagan babies” in India.)

Or it can be more hands-on and pastoral. We hope you want to be involved in our own parish’s efforts to fulfill the call of Christ to care for those less fortunate.

The program is being reorganized to act as the parish’s food coordinators, assisting any ministry that currently feeds the hungry. This includes but is not limited to St. Vincent de Paul Society, our funeral and bereavement ministry, Faith Formation programs, daily sack lunches for the homeless.

To be as efficient as possible, the team would like to start by accepting specific items only. As time progresses, more items will likely be added.

For now, you will find grocery bags in the vestibule with a shopping list attached. Cash and grocery store gift cards are also gratefully accepted.

• Reusable flat-bottom grocery bags with handles
• Dry pinto beans
• Rice
• Peanut Butter
• Canned tomato sauce, vegetables, chili, fruit, pasta, tuna, soups
• Tortillas

• Brown paper lunch sacks
• Peanut Butter
• Jelly
• Bread
• Water
• Fruit
• Baked Goodies
• Wet Ones
• Cheese Slices
• Cracker packs

If you would like to help in this ministry, you can send your information to me at Barbie-stmarys@hotmail.com and I will see that Kim and Marlyn get your contact information.

(FYI: The monies that you have been donating monthly to “Feed the Hungry” are being used in this program as well.)

Mothers

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I always thought I wanted six children, but reality set in when the time finally came!

I was blessed with two children. My son, Jens (named after my Daddy) is 29 and my daughter, Rachel is 30. They are the joy of my life. We have a very close relationship which was a result of very hard work and a lot of prayer. I thank God every day for “my babies”.

I remember once when my parents invited me to go with them to Laughlin for a few days. Of course I went. They took me to dinner at their favorite steak house inside Harrah’s. (Maybe you’ve eaten there?) The waiter (who had come to know my parents) came over and Daddy beamed with pride as he introduced his daughter. He and Mom started telling him about all that I had accomplished. I didn’t understand why they were so excited about introducing me. Now I know. I’m the same way with my children.

As a child, I never gave any real thought to how it would feel to be a parent, to love another human being unconditionally. Without question. Without reservation.

I saw a story on the news not long ago about a man who was being executed. A mother’s love is so deep and so unconditional, that she loves her child even under those circumstances. She will never stop loving him even if she believes he is guilty as charged.

How many mothers have a child who has made a few bad choices in their lives? (You can put your hands down now. Too many to count.) I can remember when my daughter was making some poor life choices. All I could do was hold her closer, pray harder, and love her even more unconditionally (if there is such a thing). She asked me years later if it had been hard to love her through those difficult years. Without hesitation I said “No. It was never difficult. I never stopped loving you. But…it was a huge challenge to like you.”

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that I was Daddy’s Little Girl. Through and through. I obviously loved my mom, but didn’t have the same kind of close relationship with her. My Daddy died just before my 50th birthday. I promised Daddy that I would take care of Mom in his absence. She suffered a stress-induced heart attack the night he died, and there was a lot of care that followed. For seven years. I thank God that

I was given the opportunity to get to know my mom so much more personally before she died. I got to know her as a beautiful human being, not just my mom.

God doesn’t make mistakes. He knew it would be a gift to me in the end. Mom died five years ago, and I still find myself picking up the phone to call her.

I really find it interesting how life meanders along and how the scenery along the way changes when you’re not really paying attention.

One day you’re a little girl, playing with dolls, daydreaming about being a Mommy. The next you are that Mommy, raising the children about whom you’ve dreamed. And later, you are the daughter, caring for your own mother in her twilight years.

I want to remind you that time passes so very quickly. We blink and our children are grown. Cherish every day, every moment you have with them. They are a miraculous gift from God. We blink and our parents are gone. Cherish every day. Visit or call them often while you have the chance. Thank God every day for your family and friends. You are truly blessed to have them.

Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life

The following is a story written by Mary Ann Otto, Stewardship Director for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A Model Stewardship Teacher: Sister Esther Joy

I remember her vividly. As I look through the eyes of a Christian steward, I could see why my teacher, Sister Esther Joy perfectly inspired the young students in her care. Second grade was her specialty and there were about fifty of us.

Sister Esther was able to use her God-given talents as a teacher. Her joy and faith were passed on to us. It seemed like we each had a place and school was an experience of Jesus as well as a place for learning.

I believe that Sister Esther was an expert at time management because we accomplished so much that year. We honed our skills in the three “R’s” (Reading, writing and arithmetic), were perfectly prepared for First Penance and First Communion and played games to remember the answers to the questions in the Catechism. We also prayed the rosary in Latin every day and filled our rice bowls during Lent.

She was with us at Mass each day and encouraged Saturday participation where she would have her classroom open and we could work on crafts after Mass.

Sister Esther was also a woman who loved music and literature. She would encourage us to finish our projects and had us all singing as she played the violin. At the end of the day she would read aloud a chapter from a book. I remember “Heidi” as being one of my favorites.

This lovely woman was fifty-three years old when I encountered her as a second grade student.

It was the sparkle in her eye, her love and her many gifts that touched me so deeply. She died on February 22, 1989. She was 79 years old, taught for 40 years and had just celebrated her 60th anniversary as a Racine Dominican. Amazing!

I would invite everyone to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life by going to the website of your favorite religious community. Find out how you could tell one of your own stories and thank them for how they have impacted your life. No doubt, they deserve our gratitude and we deserve the joy of remembering.