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Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Martina Prayer Resources Sacraments

How to Turn a Sob Story into a Good Confession

The other day my husband and I had a decently intense conversation about the merits of a sob story. One of us (my husband) prefers to speak to a contractor in simple terms. His details are succinct and to the point. The other (me) likes to paint a beautiful picture, complete with smells and sound if possible. I want you to SEE and FEEL that our cut propane line is an emergency. When my husband calls a plumber, his conversation goes something like this:

Hi, yes – our propane line is broken. Mmmhmm…yes, we need it repaired. Oh, next week? Yeah, we’re going to need it taken care of sooner. Calls someone else, rinse and repeat.

When I call the plumber, it goes like this:

Hi! I’m driving behind one of your trucks and thought I’d call! We have a bit of an emergency with six children at home and have been without hot water or the ability to cook on the stove the past five days. Is there any chance we could expedite service? Oh, I see the truck I’m behind is turning into my neighborhood – can you send that guy over?

30 minutes later, the plumber shows up – I would wager because I gave enough description for them to determine our need and location to a worker in the area.

Tying this into confession

But how does this relate to what God wants from us? I immediately likened it to confession. I mean a REALLY GOOD confession. You know the kind you give when it’s a priest you’ve never met? I know you’re nodding in agreement right now.

I know when I sit in the pew waiting for confession to begin, I feel nauseous…because sins. Same sins as last time and the time before that and the…well, you get the point. We usually try to get to confession ahead of time so we can wait on the front end instead of wondering if we’ll get to have our confession heard before Mass begins.

And then…as I inch seat by seat as members of the family head into the confessional, that stress creeps in.

“Just focus on how you’ll feel when you walk out,” I tell myself.

And the internal dialogue that follows resembles that of a tantruming toddler tussling with the momma.

I go in and I bare my soul, and pour out my sob story because I think it’s what God wants of me. I know that confessions of old (and even today still) involve enumerating ones sins in an effort to provide a succinct list of what’s what and possibly helps the priest focus on some problematic areas for the penitent. And I appreciate that for what it is and respect Father’s time.

When I say sob story *in* confession, what I am really saying is even if you are enumerating your sins, it can also be super helpful for the priest to hear some backstory, especially if this is a regular confessor and has heard your same sins time and again. It helps them give specific advice and support unique to your state in life.

So, what are some solid ways to make a good confession?

  • Go frequently. Or go back. Yes, I know the virus has made things infinitely hard and maybe, just maybe, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we may have rationalized ourselves into a corner where we have not been to Reconciliation or even Mass in a very long time, but understand this. The priest is there to guide you and be that channel for God’s infinite Mercy. Think of and perhaps focus on how you’ve felt walking out of the confessional!
  • Do a thorough Examination of Conscience. This is especially important if it’s been a while since you’ve been to Reconciliation. Make it a good one!
  • Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with the priest. If it’s been a number of months or longer, consider making an appointment with the priest so you can say all you need to without the potential stress of holding up the line.
  • Make a daily examination of conscience a part of your routine going forward. Now that you’ve been to confession, it’s time to see where you can tweak things on the daily. I highly recommend a daily reflection on areas where you’ve improved and need improvement. This will help your next confession tremendously. If you’ve purchase DAYBOOK, there is a place to do a daily Ignatian Examination of Conscience.

Interested in more resources on Confession?


Read previous articles

Download a good Examination of Conscience

Consider purchasing the Pocket Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation from Ascension Press and keep it in your purse (ladies) or in your car (ladies and gents)

Categories
Antonia Goddard Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Sacraments Vocations

Called by Marriage, Not to Marriage

CalledbyMarriageNottoMarriage

A Vocation for Life

After your marriage, your life will change forever. You will change forever. Whatever happens in your life – good or bad, joyful or tragic – you will be married to one another. And nothing, nothing, will ever change that. 

The room rang with the echoes of the priest’s words. My fiancé and I looked at each other a little nervously. It didn’t put us off marriage, far from it, but it made us realise how what we were doing was almost impossible – crazily so – if we didn’t have God’s help.

With our wedding coming up in just one month, I have spent the last year and a half considering my vocation more seriously than ever before. Until recently, it had mostly been presented to me as a series of check boxes. Which of the follow applies to you? Single life, priesthood, religious life, marriage – select one of the above. As though marriage were simply a life event, another sacrament to add to the collection, a stepping stone on the journey to Heaven.

But my vocation, and my marriage, are far more than that. Whilst I have felt a growing call to the married and family life for many years, my wedding is not an event to be checked off the list of life. 

Because as I have been praying, thinking, and trying to understand what God wants for me, I’ve come to understand that my vocation is far more than my marriage. Rather, God is drawing me closer to Him through my fiancé. I am not called to the married life; I am called to God through my marriage.

My fiancé makes me a better person in every respect. He reminds me, not by correction or criticism but simply by being, to be a kinder, more patient, and more loving person. Through him, I know I will grow in my faith and understanding, and become closer to God. I am not called to marriage; I am called to God by marrying my fiancé. 

My vocation won’t be completed in a single day, or even a sacrament. It won’t be complete when we have a ten, twenty, or even fifty year anniversary, nor with the birth of our first child or our last. My draw to God is more than a ring on my finger or a new title or new surname – and to say that my vocation begins and ends with my marriage is to ignore any and all other vocations that God has for me. My desire to care for children, to raise a family of my own, to write and change the world around me for the better – all these vocations are not lessened or nullified by my marriage. Ultimately, it is only by joining Christ and the saints in Heaven can I truly be considered to have fulfilled my vocation.

This understanding comes with it a further revelation – that if I am called to Christ through my fiancé, then he is called to Christ through me. A responsibility, then, beyond ensuring that my husband is well fed, content, and looked after – ensuring that he can fulfil his vocation, whatever that may entail, with my love and support. Once again, I wonder what on earth I’ve let myself in for. The realisation hits me, as it does so often, that what I am about to embark upon is certainly beyond my capability – without the assistance of God.

I have been incredibly lucky in my quest to understand my vocation. Not only have I been set incredible examples from my parents, family, friends, and in-laws-to-be, but I have been blessed beyond measure to begin exploring my vocation with the best man God put on this Earth. In marrying him, I am not fulfilling my vocation – I am taking the very first step.

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Faith Formation Marriage Matrimony Offering your suffering Prayer Relatable Resources Sacraments Series Vocations

Relatable: Love, Actually – A 2019 Catholic Sistas Series about Marriage

RELATABLE-LoveActually

Welcome to our new series: RELATABLE: LOVE, ACTUALLY. In this series, guest authors* will share about all the challenging realities of marriage.

Marriage today is rarely presented realistically or positively. Hollywood and the media promote Disney fairytales where couples “lives happily ever after.” Or marriage is demonized as an unnecessary complication when hooking up and cohabitation will do just as well.

But what about the Catholic who still believes in the sanctity of marriage, including its permanence? Is it even possible for couples to remain connected to one another through all of life’s struggles and suffering? YES. In RELATABLE: LOVE, ACTUALLY, we will feature authentic, honest, and hopeful stories by real Catholic women about the journey of marriage. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, after all, and we want to give a voice to those couples struggling with infertility, infidelity, miscarriage, mental illness, addiction, and financial stress. We want to give hope by sharing stories of those who have weathered those crosses and come out stronger for them. These stories will reassure strugglings wives that you are not alone. And that with God’s help, there is a way forward, even if you just take baby steps, one day at a time.

*While some authors may post anonymously for privacy reasons, we assure you that each story is authentic and reflects the journey of a real person.

 

Categories
Domestic Church Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Martina Matrimony Prayer Sacraments Vocations

Marriage is Hard, So Here’s Some Advice You Can Use

MarriageIsHard - So Here's Some Advice You Can Use

Marriage is hard.

The sky is blue and bears live in the woods. I know this title doesn’t suggest any shocking or ground-breaking revelation. I mean, after all, all of us are either married, know someone who is married, lived in a home with parents who were married or have seen married people on television. 😉  We’ve all seen marriage in its many forms, I’m guessing. But if you aren’t actually married – single and looking, single and not looking, dating and/or engaged – it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. Even under the best of circumstances, couples who marry will find struggles along the way. Marriage wasn’t meant to be easy, but it was always meant to be what points us to heaven. Each spouse is tasked with getting the other to heaven – heavy, huh?

I once heard on the radio a really good point made by a priest who hosted the show. He spoke of marriage prep and the length of time most dioceses prepare a couple for the sacrament of marriage vs. priestly formation, which typically takes seven years. His take was that couples are not spending enough time properly discerning marriage or with the proper disposition of heart. The secular push (and this is now my own observation) has a very set timeline. Timelines that are typically attached to availability of venues – be they churches and halls or hotels for the reception. I can attest to this as a former wedding photographer myself. I saw it in the frenzied clients I worked with and then even in my own journey to the altar for my wedding. Did I mention there is the perfect date, too? That date can also dictate the timeline to logistically prepare for the wedding date.

But…aren’t we called to a better discernment, free of distractions and timelines?

Here’s the flip side.

Can you imagine dating someone for SEVEN years just to see if he/she was the right one? While seven years isn’t practical in terms of a dating to engagement to wedding timeline, the idea that discernment for marriage ought to be longer than it is, with more grounding in intentional spiritual formation does seem to be a good direction. Whatever your timeline, be aware that the key to going forward and creating a rich foundation to build your upcoming marriage should strive to be rooted in God first, timelines and desires second. 

So…what exactly do healthy marriages look like and what can a single person glean from a post like this? Let’s explore a bit, shall we…? I asked – let’s call them the big brain trust. These are ladies I call friends who I’ve known for many MANY years – some online, some in real life for real and raw marriage advice. It’s a messy sacrament, that thing called marriage. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might sneeze, but trust me, you will walk away from this post with some idea of what you’re in for – the good, the bad, the ugly, but most of all, the root of what marital love really can be. So, grab your coffee and we’ll get started. 🙂 

 


SO, HERE’S SOME ADVICE YOU CAN USE

The kids are not number 1.

You should go to those stupid marriage communication seminars even at years 5, 10, and 15. You might learn something you forgot you knew, something you put off doing. You might make fun of everything they say and remember why you uniquely work together.

You should definitely have the priest over for dinner.

You should have people you are friends with that you aren’t friends with because your kids like their kids. Unless you come from an extremely healthy family of origin, don’t tell them your problems with each other.

Have your own hobbies, make sure your spouse has their own.

Encourage each other.

Dream about the future together.

When you get teenage babysitters, go on adventures together again.

Nfp sucks, if you have a chance/choice to abandon it and ttw, do.

~ Kat W.

***

Pray for each other, make time for each other WITHOUT the kids

learn each other’s love language, remember all the things that love is.

Sometimes it IS ok to go to bed mad. Being tired and upset, isn’t the most conducive to having a productive discussion. Sometimes a clear head in the morning is better.

Lisa S.

***

There will be ups and downs. You’ll experience greater joy than you could have ever imagined and then sometimes you’ll get into a huge fight about whether the ceiling fan should be off or on.

~ Christine H.

***

Learn and understand each other’s love languages.

Have a saying, or multiple sayings, that reminds you both that you are on the same team.

Know that you may have different “dictionaries”, and use certain words in a way that is misinterpreted by the other, remembering -same team.

Help support one another in having ample spiritual feeding time/opportunities.

~ Cindy R.

***

Have the utmost respect for one another, never belittling the other, especially in front of others.

Know that there are going to be times when you feel like you’re clawing your way through hell, but one of you will have the strength to climb up and throw the other a rope.

Have a good strong prayer life …Mass/rosary/receive holy communion together and spend time alone…dates…movie night etc. Laughing, talking, venting.

Affection is so important, too…(lots of hoochie ?) and doing nice things for each other, surprises to make the other feel really loved and taken care of. Be mature…listen/discuss/disagree like rational people.

~ Sarah G.

***

If you think you will always be giddy in love, you won’t. You have to want to be married. You have to believe in staying married. Society offers too many outs, too many opportunities to think you should have more. You need to realize you already do have more, a life partner, someone who accepts you as a whole person. The catch is, you have to accept them, too.

I have seen long marriages as a nurse and I have seen them under tremendous strain due to illness. Always say please and thank you to your partner. Serve your partner. Love them at their worst and remember them at their best. Do what is best for them. Be patient, be kind and save your best for them, they deserve it.

And pray. Always pray.

~ Melanie M.

***

If it crosses your mind that it would be nice to do something little for your spouse, but you feel super burned out or tired, do it anyway. A foot rub, an unexpected love note, a phone call just to say “hi,” taking the extra effort to make sure his dress shoes are clean or his favorite shirt is hanging up for him to wear again. Whether or not he is aware of the extra effort it takes doesn’t matter, because he will feel truly loved and appreciated.

Let them know that you value their skills as a provider. Thank them for their dedication to work so that your family can meet needs and even wants. Let them know that you feel secure when they are around.

Take turns giving each other time (and resources) to do what “feeds” you as individuals. Remember that you are stronger as a couple, and keep your relationship in good condition with dates – even at home watching a show one night a week.

Pray together – take turns leading, and thank God for the gift of your spouse in specific ways.

And laugh together! Laugh at the good times and the bad times! We ALWAYS have something that gets royally messed up when we go on a vacation – it is what it is and we chalk that up as part of the experience. Laughing at yourselves and each other and the things that sink will get you through A LOT.
HAVE FUN. 

Know your temperaments/tendencies. He likes to solve problems, but I like to just be listened to. If I don’t want to hear his problem solving idea, I will tell him that I just need him to listen. In time, I usually ask for his advice anyway and we both win. 🙂 Sometimes I get overwhelmed and have to spill out everything that is on my mind, that I regret, that I am sad about, that bothered me a month ago and is stupid and I don’t know why it still bugs me – I can tell him, “Babe, I have to do the “melancholic dump” on you today. I’m really sorry, but I will get out of this funk if you just let me pour it out…will you please give me 10 minutes to just pour it out?” Then he doesn’t feel like I am oddly attacking him for something, or wonder if I am gearing up to drop horrible news on him or anything. It just helps to know who you are and work with/around it. 🙂 But it does take time to get there!

~ Katie

***

Love isn’t really a feeling – it’s more of a choice. When my husband is acting like a selfish jerk, I desperately don’t want to do some of the little extra things to make his life easier, but I feel like that is when its most important. It even seems to make me feel less angry when I do.

Also, if there’s a problem, don’t just sweep it under the rug. It’s one thing to take some time to get a clear head and really think things through, but it’s really important to talk about these things before they become an even bigger issue.

~ Jessica G.

***

When you can only think of responding to a situation with anger … wait … pray … breathe… usually you can find a way to communicate without tearing each other down.

Go out without kids. If that’s expensive (babysitting & cost of meals or entertainment, etc) instead, make the kids an easy dinner put them to bed and order in … talk to each other about the things that brought you together in the first place … talk about your hopes and dreams. Be present. Don’t chat about daily chores or stressors … that’s later. Try to set a date night like that at least every other week. It’s not expensive … but it’ll keep you connected.

~ Donna S.

***

Sexual intimacy is important. When TTA, find other means of intimacy — hugging, back rubs, holding hands, kissing. However, when you are both able to engage, do! Often!

Never use words of insult. No name calling, no belittling.

~ Charla S.

***

There will be ups and downs, make the decision to be married and to be kind every day. Oh, and separate comforters!

~ Jen M.

***

There is a difference between arguing a lot and domestic abuse. If you aren’t sure which one is happening in your marriage, talk to a counselor. It doesn’t mean yourmarriage has to end either way. Don’t be afraid to see amarriage counselor. Lots of strong married couples go or have gone to marriage counseling. The longer you wait to fix a problem (or hope that it fixes itself on its own) the more difficult it will be to fix it when you finally do start to do the right work.

~ Elisa L.

***

Just keep hanging on. Remember you are literally creating a building block for society. Your mission is so much bigger than just the two of you.

~ Amy V.

***

Put God first, because happiness will not be found in each other. God is the source of joy. Somehow God provides, so do not worry and argue. Save. Save memories, save time for each other, save resources.

~ Abi W.

***

When you are in the thick of it, step back and remember the person you fell in love with.

***

Start each morning and end each day with a deep embrace. It connects you in a very intimate way and starts and ends the day on the right foot.

~ Martina


What would you add to this list to share with dating and engaged couples?
Categories
Communion Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kathleen Lent Liturgical Year Sacraments

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Holy Communion

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Holy Communion

Dear Daughter,

I remember my First Holy Communion like it was yesterday. I remember the warm May day, the excitement of putting on my dress and sitting with my family, and the fact that a bunch of kids passes out during the photos afterwards. I remember the Mass, and the party. But most of all, I remember writing a “1” on my calendar in my bedroom. When we went to Mass with my class two days later, I wrote a “2.” The next Sunday, a “3.” I kept this up most of the summer. I wanted to remember every single time I was able to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. It was special, and new, and EXCITING. I was excited to receive the Body and Blood of Christ every chance I got.

I want that for you.

More than the pretty dress, and the warm family embrace, and the pictures; more than any of that, I want you to feel the Body of Christ on your tongue and know that you are participating in the most important thing you will ever do. You could cure cancer, become President of the United States, or be a mom of 18 little souls. You could do all that and more. Nothing will ever, ever, be as important as what you get to do as you approach the altar and receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ inside your very body.

That is what I want for you.

We have been through some things, my little girl. You did not grow in my womb. You were born to me, in a sense, on Holy Thursday. On that Holy Thursday many years ago, at the celebration of the institution of the Eucharist, I saw you for the first time in Daddy’s arms. I felt the Holy Spirit in my mind and my soul and even though I did not understand it, I knew I would bring you to the altar one day for your First Holy Communion. I knew you were my baby, even though it made no sense. That first Holy Thursday with you, I knew that Christ, through His life, death, and resurrection had given us the protection to go forward as a family.

This meal that you get to partake in is the source and summit of our faith*, and of our family.

It will not be easy, Daughter. You will grow complacent. I stopped writing the number of times I’d received the Body of Christ on my calendar. There were so many times I’ve gone forward mindlessly, because that’s what you do. It was important, sure, but not SPECIAL. I would get distracted by other people, friends, what other people are wearing. There are even times I went forward for Communion when I was probably not in a state to do so, and I regret those times more than anything else in the world. (That’s why you made your first confession some months ago, so you can always be prepared to approach the altar of the Lord.)


It’s not always exciting.


Except that it is. A dear priest friend prays before every Mass that we experience it as if it were our first Mass, our last Mass, our only Mass. I want you to realize that. I want you to realize that this could be the ONLY chance you ever get to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist on earth. We are never assured of anything, and every single moment we get to experience the union with our Lord through his Body and Blood is an unmistakable gift from God, and one that we cannot take for granted, however easy that might be.


I want you to appreciate the significance of this moment, Daughter, and not only today. It’s easy today. It’s exciting. I want you to appreciate it in a year, when you’re looking over your shoulder to find your friends. I want you to appreciate it in ten years, when you’re kneeling and praying but really just watching other people walk by. I want you to appreciate it in 12 years, when you’re being made fun of for going to Mass while you’re away at college. I want you to appreciate it in twenty years, at your nuptial Mass, when the first meal you and your husband partake of together is the Eucharistic feast. I want you to appreciate it every single year after that when you have babies clinging to you, toddlers whining and kicking your skirt up, and children bugging you to find their place in the missal. I want you to appreciate it when you are sick and tired and going through morning sickness and arguing with your husband and it took everything you had to just get to Mass. I want you to appreciate it when you come forward with something broken inside you that only God can fix. I want you to appreciate it when you are preparing your daughter for her First Holy Communion.

 

That’s what I want for you today. And I will spend the rest of my life helping you understand it.

 

I love you,

 

Mommy

 

*CCC 1324