Today’s Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”‘
The call of our lives, and particularly during Advent, is the same as that of St. John the Baptist: “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Some who heard St. John’s proclamation responded by “acknowledging their sins.” Before we can help prepare the way for Jesus, we too must acknowledge our sins, making our lives straight with Him.
While the Lord loves us more than we can possibly imagine, He also calls us out of our sins. He loves us too much to let us stay in the mess we have made, and He invites us to let Him clean us. This is probably why the first thing Jesus did after rising from the dead was to give us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We read in John’s Gospel:
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (20:19-23).
Given that the goal of marriage is to help get one another to heaven, and that our faith enables us to be the kind of spouse we ought to be, the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be a common and frequent practice in not only our faith, but also our marriage. Below is a list of spiritual effects the Church teaches that we will receive when we go to Confession. While you are reading them, ask yourself the question: “Do I want this for my spouse and for my family? Would these graces help me be a better spouse and help me in my faith?”
“The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are: reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace; reconciliation with the Church; remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins; remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin; peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation; an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1496).
“O my God, help me to make a good confession. Mary, my dearest Mother, pray to Jesus for me. Help me to examine my conscience, enable me to obtain true sorrow for my sins, and beg for me the grace to die rather than to offend God again. Lord Jesus, light of our souls, who enlightens every man coming into this world, enlighten my conscience and my heart by Thy Holy Spirit, so that I may perceive all that is displeasing to Thy divine majesty and may expiate it by humble confession, true contrition, and sincere repentance.” – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Making a good confession requires grace from God and time to examine our conscience. A great resource for examination of conscience for couples can be found on my website. Click here to view the resource page at FaithandMarriage.org, scroll down to “Confession,” and click on the link below it to download an “Examination of Conscience for Married Couples.” Go through the examination and set a time this week to go to confession. After, go and celebrate God’s mercy and love with a date-night or a fun night with the family!
“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.” – St. Isidore of Seville