Do You Smell That?

Listening to Relevant Radio today, Fr Richard Simon spoke about the need to be truly repentant for our sins. Sure, we say we are sorry and might even feel bad, but he suggests substituting the word “failed” instead of “sinned.”

“Bless me Father for I have failed…”

 Now that sheds a whole new light on the matter. He proposes, that until we “hear” what we are admitting in our sinfulness, and deeply ponder the impact on our own soul and those we sin against, we are likely to continue repeating them. It is necessary to discern how our actions or inaction effects the recipient of them and how they offend God who is all good. Interesting perspective.

It is about ownership. I have sinned when I failed to love rightly, to give generously, to listen tenderly, to offer patience instead of sarcasm and so on.

I HAVE FAILED.

I choose wrongly. I choose self over other. I let pride win the day. There is no one to pin this on but myself.

“For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes.”

Psalm 51:5-6

Years ago I remember sitting in a class with Katrina Zeno who unlocked the insightful teaching by St. JPII’, Theology of the Body. Katrina used lots of props to get the point across and solidify them in our minds and hearts. Her visual aids were successful and remained in your mind for years. I recall when she described sin. To sin means to miss the mark. It is an archery term. She held up an apple and referenced the beauty and goodness of the fruit. Next, she held up a miniature replica of an apple, and stated that “sin is a reduction of the good.”  Aha! Light bulb illuminates over my head. When we sin, we miss the mark, we choose less instead of more; the counterfeit versus the real deal. It is grasping rather than receiving.

I would encourage us this Lent to consider the ways we have failed to do the good we ought and get to Confession. Why? Jesus left this priceless gift to us knowing we needed to be set free from the weight of our sins; it is also what we must do as Catholics. The minimum requirement is once yearly, during Lent. The fact of the matter is no saint ever strived to hit the minimum. Popes go weekly. Anyone who needs grace, who desires to grow in holiness and leave habitual sin behind, should go more than once every 365 days. I like to go monthly. I probably should up my game and go a little more than that. You might consider that overkill!

No saint did the minimum.

Think of it this way, how long would you go without taking a shower or bath? It’s possible no one would want to be near you after a couple weeks. Seriously, think about it, you would leave a distinctive stench wherever you went. After a month, your family would make you a bed outside.

Imagine a year or more. People would get a whiff of your reek a mile away. If that is the bodily affect of not washing, what might the spiritual effect be of not confessing? While we may not be able to smell the filth of sin, our spiritual odor would suggest otherwise. Sin has a wretched stench to be sure.

Oh, come on Barb, now you are making stuff up. Newsflash, there were several saints who could actually smell grave sins and those who committed them. Yikes, awkward! St John Bosco, St. Philip Neri and St. Joseph of Cuppertino to name a few. Then there was St. Christina the Astonishing. Her story begins at her own funeral when she was twenty-one, she sat straight up and flew to the rafters of the Church. This got the attention of the mourners, many of whom ran out screaming. The Priest commanded her in the Name of Jesus to come down which she obediently did. When asked why she flew into the rafters she said that the stench of their sin was so great she could not stand it. She would spend the rest of her life avoiding the smell as much as she could and doing incredible sacrifices for the Souls in Purgatory.

So how bad do you stink?

The Saints were more worried about sin than death. Do we have the same concern?

A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.” (ps 51:12)

Getting to confession must be a priority, no excuses.  Pour your failures upon God’s Mercy, be cleansed, and you will come out smelling like a rose.

By pouredmyselfoutingift

Catholic, wife, mother, and grandmother. Ministering to those preparing for marriage and struggling within them. Cooker, baker, and dessert maker. Passionate, giving, action-orientated, dedicated to marriage and family and sharing the Good News.

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