Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reflections from my Journal #3: Confession, Penance, and My Fall 2012 Resolutions

This is the "happy ending post" of my previous two posts about my struggles with lukewarmness.

My struggles with Lukewarmness (1)
My struggle with Lukewarmness (2)

...because the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference (aka lukewarmness).
The posts were actually my journal entries that I decided to 'share with the world.' They aren't very exciting posts, but my hopes in spilling my heart out about my internal struggles were that maybe, just maybe, by some slim chance, it will help someone who is going through a similar trial.

So, finally, after a few rough weeks of drowning in my own misery, I did a very thorough examination of conscience and went to confession and mass on the First Friday of the Month. The confession was phenomenal. It made me feel so much better, so much lighter. No more sin laying heavy upon my heart and weighing me down! God also led me to the right priest! There were about 10 priests doing confessions but God led me to one that was very understanding and gave me some great advice and encouragement for the future. I now feel so light-spirited! I am a happy gal!

Right after I did my examination of conscience (which involved so much reflection that it took me a good few hours!), I came up with a list of resolutions which target all of those things that I keep tripping over and thus need to work on. This is what I came up with:

What I shall seek to improve in myself   :
I shall strive for silence; both physical and silence of the heart
I shall strive to love my neighbor the way he/she is, without judging or criticizing
I shall make daily sacrifices for the Lord, such as fasting and staying off useless internet websites, such as facebook
I shall set aside time for prayer / meditation /reflection daily
I shall set aside time for weekly prayers such as a weekly rosary and chaplet of divine mercy
I shall practice self-discipline by exercising regularly as well as waking up early in the morning (instead of being lazy and sleeping in)
I shall put my best effort forth into preparing to be a pharmacist by regularly studying instead of wasting time
I shall put my best effort forth at work, every single time I work—and work hard without complaint
I shall show more love to my parents and offer them help without complaint and without expecting anything in return
I shall suffer silently, offering it up to the Lord – instead of becoming stressed, discouraged, worried
I shall not leave God for last and place other things/people before God
I shall NOT BE LUKEWARM in my relationship with God and my daily walk on the path to holiness
I shall TRUST IN THE LORD at all times, in all circumstances!

Then, after confession, I came up with a few very specific resolutions based on the above list - some firm resolutions that specified exactly what kind of sacrifices I am going to make each day for the Lord and for the sake of my own soul. And so far, I have been following my daily resolutions religiously! In fact, last week was one of the best weeks I have had in a really long time. It was heavenly! I got up early in the morning (6am or earlier) every single day last week and was productive from morning to evening. I stayed off facebook. I prayed for at least 10 minutes before bedtime. I said my weekly rosary on wednesday and Chaplet of Divine Mercy on Friday, and even went to an hour of adoration at my church on Thursday! I was proud of myself. I felt so strong and so confident that I didn't even once have any difficulties sticking to my new resolutions and being a good person in general. However, I know that this strength, fervor, and joy is not of my own doing--it is from above! I know that without God's grace, without His supporting me through this past week, I would have failed many times. Without Him, I have no strength, no confidence, no joy - and without Him I feel discouraged and hopeless. 

The Lord is so good and full of compassion! It's incredible.

Here is the psalm I have been praying after every confession, for a few years now. It makes me feel much better: 

Psalm 32

Happy the man whose offense is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.
I groaned all day long,
for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.
Indeed my strength was dried up
as by the summer's heat.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: I will confess
my offense to the Lord.
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

So let every good man pray to you
in the time of need.
The floods of water may reach high
but him they shall not reach.
You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will give you counsel
with my eye upon you.
Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent,
needing bridle and bit
else they will not approach you.

Many sorrows has the wicked
but he who trusts in the Lord,
loving mercy surrounds him.
Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

That's all for now.
Keep a lookout for my next post on pharmacy school :-)

Love, Agnes

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