For the Catholics who go to confession only once a year, the season for confession is upon us once again. It is time for us to look back on the way we have conducted ourselves in the past year as we prepare our hearts, minds and souls for that usually-one-sided conversation with a priest so we can be absolved of our sins and hopefully sin no more.
As those of us who haven’t gone on a domestic or local vacation destination prepare for our encounter with the sacrament of confession, I thought I’d come up with some reflections from the point of view of a layperson that isn’t particularly pious.
One sin many of us must be guilty of in this day and age would probably be having a foul mouth or being tolerant of the foul-mouthed around us. Let us admit that we now live in a world where role models and leaders have learned that speaking without filters titillates their “base” and makes them “relatable” human beings. Because of this, curse words have become the norm and we no longer flinch upon hearing it.
Many of us who have tried to control this foul aspect of our behavior in the past have seen our leaders use these words without consequences and such behavior has encouraged them to regress. Others who used to be offended by such language no longer bother trying to correct or reprimand those who use it because everybody talks like that bastos guy anyway. I often wonder if parents who continue to idolize and support the president still bother scolding their kids who talk in this distinctly presidential manner or if the use of such language in their homes has become a source of pride.
Those who have plans of going to confession this Holy Week might want to think about how they use and tolerate curse words and foul language in their lives and homes. Those who want to change their ways should consider talking to their priest while those who intend to continue this behavior that they consider acceptable should go all the way and use those ugly words during confession.
One sin that has also become totally normalized is lying. People are no longer afraid to lie in this brave new world and those of us who have allowed it to become part of the norm really need to look deep inside their souls this Holy Week if they intend to go to confession. Some of us may not be liars or spread outright lies but those of us who prefer to stay silent even when facing a barefaced liar are also contributing to the worsening of the situation. There is an urgent need to push back against the liars of this world and admitting that you are part of the problem is a start. Confessing how you contribute to the normalization of lying and the glorification of liars could help get your values back on track.
The sin of double standards. This is something those of us who used to have lofty standards for our role models and leaders but now tolerate incompetence and corruption more comfortably should reflect upon before going to confession. What happened to your standards for leadership that used to be world class? Why did you lower those standards? Why do you continue to expect more from some people and nothing from others? A frank discussion with your priest regarding how low you have gone can help you evaluate where your soul is going and determine if it can still be saved. Those who worry that lowering standards and having double standards could be considered a mortal sin can try finding a priest with low and double standards for immediate absolution and maybe even a justification to carry on.
The sin of believing and spreading fake news. The Catholic religion does not like false prophets so this tendency to believe fake news and worse, spread such news without even bothering to check its veracity must be confession-worthy. Every one of us who has shared a link on Facebook in the past year needs to reassess those shares as they prepare for confession this Holy Week. Did we willingly or unwittingly spread fake news? Did you empower your FB friend who shares news you knew was fake with your silence? Are you willing to repent by taking the time to fact check “news” that looks too good to be true?
These are but a few of the sins or failings we can think about as we prepare our heart, mind and souls for this Holy Week. There are probably many more serious sins that require our attention but those are one of the issues that have been on top of my mind lately and the culmination of the Lenten season has just made them more relevant for me.
I hope we all come out of this year’s Holy Week more centered and refreshed, knowing what is important to us and our families, with a better idea of what is right and wrong and truly repentant if we discover that we have strayed.*
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