December is the last month of the calendar year but it contains the beginning days of the liturgical calendar year. There are many special celebrations during this month and there are a lot of different Church activities where individuals, families and communitarian initiatives are involved, prior to Jesus’ birthday celebration, Christmas! It is also a preparation time to welcome in the New Year.
A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. (Ps 51:10 – see the full psalm of lament)
It is good to celebrate with a renewed heart and steadfast spirit!
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most important sacraments for us to be ready for the incoming year. Then off we go to continue life filled with the Holy Spirit to guide our way at the beginning of the new year. We need a ‘cleaning up’ for our souls and the Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us a way to humble ourselves before God because we can be weak and sinful people and therefore need God’s love, mercy and intervention in our life. We hurt ourselves as we hurt others too. But it does not mean that December is the only time valid for confession – we can have it often throughout the year or when we are in most need. The Bible tells us to forgive seventy times seven – this means many times or unlimited forgiveness. The Church requires that we go to confession at least once a year.
During the Advent period, the scriptural readings are helpful for us, leading ourselves to be reconciled with man and God. Our sins, whether small or big, venial or mortal, will separate us from the love of God. If we consider that our sins are the causes of our separation from God, we must find ways to restore our interconnectedness with Him. To forgive from our heart is an ongoing process of healing. It is not an automatic way of forgiving others immediately – it involves a lot of prayer, courage and humility, especially if we are afflicted with deep wounds in our heart. That is why we need constant forgiveness, and to take the initiative to be the first to do something about it.
Reconciliation plays a big part of our Advent preparation. We pause to reflect and make a good preparation for the examination of conscience, for all that we have done that are uncharitable acts towards our loved ones. We make a schedule or a time to meet God through the priest in the confessional place.
Pray to have a good confession. Confession will lead us to heal the wounds of our painful and hurtful memories. Then time will come for healing our wounded ego. By exerting a little effort and asking God to forgive, it is possible. God is the expert at fixing a broken heart. We are broken because we have sinned and we don’t seem to see God’s love for us any longer. As soon as our heart is fixed, it heals naturally and is made whole again but the scars are still there to remind us once again of our brokenness. Even if we see the broken pieces it will be fixed by God in His time. The scars remind us of what we have gone through and God restores our broken heart so that it is ready to love and be loved again. By forgiving, our own heart, mind and conscience, filled with the stain of sin, is cleansed and we make ourselves ready for a new beginning in our journey. Our Christmas celebration will be good and fruitful. We feel better, joyful, peaceful and filled with His love again and again.
If you are in the neighbourhood of Melbourne, Australia, our local parish is offering the following – please feel welcome to participate:
Parish Christmas Reconciliation
St Ignatius’ Church, 326 Church Street, Richmond 3121
- Monday 11 December 2017, 7:30pm: Examination of Conscience in Vietnamese
- Tuesday 12 December 2017, 7:30pm: Examination of Conscience in English