From the Desk of the D.R.E.: Signs of Spiritual Heart Attack
Most of us know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and act fast: call 911 and go to the E.R. Many people learn C.P.R. to try to save a person’s life if their heart stops. When efforts are successful to resuscitate someone, we are so relieved and thankful to have them alive again.
Do I know the signs of a spiritual heart attack and how to act fast? If my soul flat-lines, who will act to save my eternal life?
Examination of conscience is going over your spiritual signs and symptoms. Venial sin sickens and weakens my soul. Mortal sin blocks the flow of grace into my soul; it cuts me off from God and from His Body, the Church - a spiritual heart attack. My soul is dead - I will go to hell if I die in mortal sin.
When I spiritually flat-line, it’s a greater miracle than successful CPR when the priest prays the words of absolution over me. I’m spiritually alive again!
Receive the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year is the second Church Precept. There are five Church Precepts, which are rules for loving unity with our Risen Lord Jesus Christ and as His Body.
Am I vulnerable with Jesus, giving Him my brokenness and sin and letting Him heal me and bring me back to life? Do I seek His grace to overcome my faults? Can I look at a crucifix and honestly say that I take my sins as seriously as Jesus does?
There are Examination of Conscience guides in the back of church and the priest will help you if you don’t remember how to make your confession.
But can’t I just confess my mortal sins directly to God? Do I really need to go through the discomfort of telling my sins to another human person? This is like having chest pain and pressure, but telling yourself that medical tests at the E.R. will suffice. Who needs doctors?
What does Jesus say? When Jesus Christ saw the paralyzed man, he said, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” Mt. 9:2 Jesus acknowledges that sin exists. He forgives sins out loud. He addresses spiritual sickness, which is more deadly and crippling, before bodily sickness.
Jesus was sent to forgive sins. How could priests know whether to forgive or retain if they didn’t hear the sins? If Jesus didn’t want priests to hear and forgive sins on His behalf, He would have said something like, “don’t worry about forgiving or retaining, they’ll just confess directly to God.“ Jesus didn’t say that.
Old Testament priests heard people confess their sins out loud when they made a sacrifice of atonement. God knows that we are souls and bodies; we need to humbly speak our sins out loud and hear God’s response. We obey God’s will for how He chooses to forgive: through His priests and His Body, the Church.
The priest will keep your sins secret. His fatherly concern is for your soul’s health. Through your participation in the Sacraments, the grace Christ won for you in His suffering, sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension (The Paschal Mystery) is applied to your soul. What does Jesus say after your confession? “...there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
Lk. 15:7 “...this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again...” Lk. 15:24.
Peace and All Good,
Liz Alonzo, DRE