Week #16 E&W

Forty Weeks ~ Sacred Story

Week 16 Encouragements & Wisdom

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If you prefer to read offline, you can also download: Encouragements and Wisdom for Week 16 (PDF).
E & W reflections are additional helps for your Sacred Story prayer journey. Reflect on them ahead of your prayer exercises for the week or outside of your fifteen-minute prayer windows.

Beginning A Monthly Habit of Reconciliation for your Sacred Story

I promised last week that I would be sending you for a few weeks some of the Sacred Story pilgrim’s reflections on the experience of making a whole-life confession. Remember, I asked you to pretend you were speaking to another person about the experience and telling them why it is a worthwhile experience.

Notice in the reflections how faithful God is to us. Notice too, how confronting our fears of confession open us up to profound grace. We learn from confronting these fears and the graces given that the enemy of our human nature, as St. Ignatius calls him, actively works to keep us from God’s peace and healing—sometimes for years and decades. Let’s pray for each other that we can continue to confront this enemy’s false fears and lies and embrace the Lord of Life who comes as our Savior and Divine Physician.

  •    At first I was VERY anxious about the confession part of this whole journey. However, as I worked through the weeks previous to the whole-life confession, writing my letter to Christ made sense. As I wrote and prayed, my anxiety began to lessen with each day. By the time I made my confession I felt Christ sitting next to me and I felt like this was simply the right thing to do. Sitting in the church, waiting for “my turn” I felt very little anxiety. I hadn’t been to confession since High School and that was a long time ago. I now feel like I understand what a blessing it can be and I know that I will go to confession again and again. Be Not Afraid!
  •    I have struggled with Confession my entire life. I went into the Church on Thursday night and sat on the aisle so I could bolt out if I decided I just couldn’t do it. During the service before I thought about just sneaking out, but I really felt the Lord pushing me to go in. When I went into the Confession I found the experience to be the most blessed and peaceful experience of my life. Fr. put me at ease and was very non-judgmental and totally compassionate. I am someone who goes to Confession every 1-12 years because of a bad experience with it when I was in the 6th grade. Fr. and I discussed it at length and I can’t describe the relief I feel. The Lord is so very full of forgiveness and Fr. made the experience so comfortable. Please don’t miss the experience. My days have been filled with peace and joy since my whole life Confession. I have resolved to make regular use of Reconciliation in the future. God bless you all and I’ll be praying for you!
  •    The whole-life confession is a wonderful experience. The opportunity to reflect on all the positive and negative patterns in your life and how they manifest themselves in the present day is itself a gift of illumination. The whole-life confession provides an opportunity to accept and release the past to prepare for the future.
  •    Going to Confession is a completely freeing experience. Admitting the errors of one’s ways and asking forgiveness provides the opportunity to begin again with a clean slate. Being absolved from sin goes straight to the heart and heals the hurts and failures that harbor there. Where else in life do we get a “do over”? With Christ, forgiveness is a gift He is always ready to give, if only we ask.
  •    I had a very graced experience. Although I make a practice of regular confession (about once a month), this confession was a different experience, both in quality and in the kind of preparation I put into it. Try not to be afraid. Recognize that the devil will not want you to do this and will throw obstacles in your way. Don’t let him win. Show up. Then get up and go to confession. You don’t have to go in the first wave. Tell yourself, I’ll take the next candle, whoever it is, and even if it’s the one you didn’t want, take it anyway, and go. You might struggle a great deal, but think of it this way: with all that work, will Jesus leave you by yourself? Hardly.
  •    It was very difficult to write my whole life confession letter to Jesus. However, it was a very rewarding experience to confess my sins over the last 30 plus years. As a returning Catholic, the Sacred Story journey has helped me to dig deeper into my faith and relationship with God, family, church and community. The whole-life confession will enable you to correlate your weaknesses to your behaviors, understand we are prone to make bad choices, and through prayer and the grace of God we can face these issues and persevere!
  •    Do not let fear hold you back from this experience or from doing anything good. The exact moment you fear is the moment that opens a new door in life to rest of God’s Sacred Story for you. Let the Lord be your strength by crying out to Him in your fear. He wants to help you.
  •    I strongly encourage you to make a whole life confession. The entire exercise in preparing for the confession and the prayer that accompanied it was one of the most spiritual events of my life. I found looking for the links between life events and/or people that may affect my habits and sinful behaviors very enlightening. The exercise was not without emotion. You name the emotion and I probably experienced it. The hours before I was to give my confession, I did feel very anxious and found myself asking Jesus to walk with me. By the time I entered the confessional, my fear was gone and although a bit weepy, found reading the letter and confessing a very easy thing to do. I had never felt as “clean” spiritually as I did after this confession was over. I feel motivated to continue to discern the connection between my habitual sins and events/people, but more importantly, I feel a renewed desire and feel that I have the ability to avoid these sins in the future. I want that ability to be accurate and to last. I just need to remember to ask Jesus for strength and to stay by my side.
  •    Trust that the Holy Spirit has guided you to consider this journey and that where you are, what you might uncover through this process, is leading you closer to God with every moment spent with Him. God is with you every step of the way, leading you and guiding you closer to him – and what can be closer than a conversation with God, a personal letter between you and Him. The benefits of the process and time spent on the whole-life confession far outweigh the anxiety and fear that you might experience. You are not called to re-confess but to look at the pattern of sin throughout your life and use this insight to create a dialogue with Christ – to guide you deeper to why you do what you do and to use that information in such a way that the priest, Christ here on earth in that moment, can help you discover ways to work through your pattern of sin and not to just confess, but to dig deeper and become wiser. Take the leap of faith. If you are even considering this journey, recognize that consideration as a personal call from Christ who is guiding you and holding you close every step of the way.
  •    Writing my letter as if I were walking or sitting with Jesus was very grounding and assuring. The first writing is a good one. I did not ‘groom’ it. I read it a few times, added, but kept it pretty well intact as that experience with Jesus, a relaxed conversation about my needs and the dynamics the previous weeks had uncovered. ‘My inner child was screaming’ as if I were making my first reconciliation at age 6 – but remembering ‘Be not afraid’ and calming prayer, reading the letter made it all just a conversation with a fellow traveler on the journey – a good and caring person and priest. His eyes were the loving eyes of Christ. I realize this is just a piece of the journey – not a test or all-or-nothing task that I have to get right – just a loving, long-term journey, exploring me, the relationships of my life, and the value and love Christ sees in me. We are held in His love.
  •    I had really never made a good honest confession before. It was always something I half-heartedly did, mostly to set a good example for my kids during Advent or Lent. The Sacred Story process helps me put down on paper the sins and patterns of sins that I previously had not been brave enough to admit or confess. It felt good to get them on paper and I knew I wanted to confess them but I was very nervous about it. I actually read my letter out loud a couple times to practice. Being in church with the other Sacred Story participants and seeing them with their letters further gave me courage. The priest really helped me relax and had wonderful advice after I had confessed.
  •    This experience has been one of the most fulfilling things I have done for my soul, self, and well-being. Lifelong habits of sin grinding me down over the years have receded. Going through the 12 weeks, finishing with the letter to Christ, and reading it to a priest at confession, has new strength and made my spirits fly. I am so pleased with the letter and it’s response I plan on giving it to my children, with minor modifications, for their use at my eulogy if they so chose. Thank you and God for providing the wonderful opportunity and making it happen.