For Ash Wednesday, I wanted as many of us to go to mass together which meant we'd have to wait after Molly's classes and babysitting job, so the latest evening mass offered. We were looking at three church possibilities for evening mass, but knew in my heart, I'd rather be with my parish.
We drove through evening traffic and light rain, battling time. I drove to the back side secret entrance, but police had it blocked off. Too many others knew the same secret. (Our parish is hosted in a family life center of the largest parish in Houston). So much for being on time. I dropped kids off to run from there and I drove to nearest school parking lot, woke up Lilly and ran. Breathless, as I walked in, Father was already administering ashes. He does before Mass really begins. I hopped in line with Lilly. She asked later why Father put black stuff on our heads, then repeated in her own words: to remind us to be a good. Close enough.
It was a low mass, which progressed quicker than we are used to, since it's not sung. The sermon: today's was about Examination of Conscience. The whole Lenten season should be a period of examining our conscience, making changes, confessing sins, offering penances and sacrifices for temporal punishments due for our sins. After sermons like tonight's, I wish I could transcribe Fathers sermons and share with y'all. It probably would be awkward to take notes in the pew.
The drive home, as always, was relaxed and happy. Everyone was chatty and smiling. I love the conversations between the kids and one they have with me. Sometimes we pray the rosary together, sometimes we plan our upcoming days or talk about what's going in with them. Sometimes we discuss the sermon and other topics that come to mind, updates of friends. Sometimes we sing along to music they want to share.
Time captive. Time to talk. Time to be together. Time well spent.
Lent is a good time to get involved with a parish, if only to be more prayerfully involved in the services offered through Lent: Stations of the Cross, Mass, prayer vigils for 40 Days for Life, Bible studies, etc. the fruits we've enjoyed because of our involvement have given us another family. People who check on us, visit and laugh with us, pray for us.
I didn't feel I was getting fed at my old parish, spiritually, intellectually, or in community. These past two years, we have been so happy to have a Fraternity for the Society of St. Peter parish! The priests are wonderful, all with their own personality and strengths, all with a similar brand of preaching. We are so blessed with our parish, our priest, our parish community: this communion of Church Militant to have us marching bravely and fortified to face Lent.
Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.
We need to start Lent off strong, and seek confession. We should prioritize time to go. Spend time with an examination of conscience that works. I often switch mine up, to help scratch my mind to get recharged, reinspired and look at myself with a new lens.
"Every sin ever committed is an action contrary to the love of God."
I recently found this one to use: Examination of Conscience. There are many online and in prayer books. I start with the Ten Commandments and ask the Holy Spirit's help.
Five steps to confession:
1. Find out your sins: examine your conscience.
2. Be sorry for your sins.
3. Make up your mind not to sin again, make changes to avoid sins.
4. Confess your sins to a priest, confessing mortal sins by number.
5. Do the penance the priests gives you.
O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
Live this Lent like it's our last.