Father Robert Altier, "temporarily" posted to the Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Chaplain of Catholic Parents OnLine, was the retreat master over at St Agnes last Saturday for the CPO annual Lenten retreat.
A lot of us put off going to Confession, not because we are ax murderers, terrorists or mafia hitpersons, but because we seem to be stuck with the same crummy old sins each time we go and we dread the moment when the confessor, in a Padre Pio-like moment, will challenge us as to whether or not we are truly repentant for our quick temper or cuss words or inattention at Mass or lying to our Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Children, Boss, Neighbor, etc.
Father made some interesting distinctions that are worth relating here.
1. Truth is a Relationship. Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth and the Light." Therefore Truth for us is our relationship with Jesus.
2. Nobody in Biblical times would have understood the term "Conscience." That was St Augustine's idea. The use of the term in 1 Tim 19 in the original was "heart."
Most of us use the word "conscience" as a synonym for "guilty." Father A. says that in the Natural Law, your conscience tells you when you are right.
It has been formed by the influences of your parents, your friends, your schooling, and the media, both visual and auditory. Those influences teach values, not principles. Values can change. Bell bottom trousers and Nehru jackets were once valued as fashionable.
Modern philosophy is a combination of "Consequentialism" (Did anybody get hurt), "Intentionality" (The end justifies the means) and Subjective Morality (Go with the flow).
Father Altier says: Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow!
3. The principles by which we should be forming our conscience are:
a. Church teachings
b. The Catechism
c. Moral Theology
d. A Daily Examination of Conscience
a. Stay in the state of grace
b. Go to Confession before you commit a mortal sin
c. Watch out for the little things
d. If you wait too long between confessions, you forget your venial sins and lose the opportunity to confess them
e. Concentrate on one problem every day and monitor it on paper/computer
Keep a log of "repetitive" sins that you committed
Keep a log of sins that you thought of, but didn't commit
f. Thank God that you always have the same sins! You know your weaknesses!
g. Keep working on them!
We become aware of sin
We become aware of the evil of sin
We become aware of how much it hurts Our Lord
Be in relationship with Truth
Be in relationship with Jesus Christ, who is Truth