Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday, Shaftesbury

Jn 20:1-9
We gather here today to celebrate the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we know, many people do not celebrate the Resurrection, many people treat it as just some kind of myth. So, if we are to celebrate today's feast with conviction then it's worth recalling some of the many reasons why we can be certain that Jesus rose from the dead. I want to do this using not some of the traditional arguments (for that see handout sheet but I want, instead, to note a couple specific arguments contained in Pope Benedict's new book –the book which I have quoted from in a number of our Easter Triduum services.

The Pope, very obviously, starts his reflections on the resurrection by referring to the Empty Tomb. And he makes the point that the emptiness of the Tomb was "a necessary condition for Resurrection faith"(Jesus of Nazareth, Vol 2, p.254). When the disciples went about Jerusalem proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead their statements would have been meaningless, and instantly contradicted, if someone had pointed to the body of Jesus lying dead in the tomb.
And it's an important point to note that nobody in antiquity, none of the Jewish high priests and Pharisees who opposed the early Christians, none of these people ever disputed that the tomb was empty. Nobody ever claimed to know some other place where his body was.

But the emptiness of the Tomb does not in itself prove the Resurrection. We know of the Resurrection because of an additional factor: the fact that Jesus, in His resurrected state, APPEARED to His disciples. They saw Him, they “ate and drank” with Him, as we heard St Peter say in our first reading. (Acts 10:41).
Pope Benedict makes the point that "for the disciples the Resurrection was just as real as the Cross"(p.245) –both events were experienced by them as something definite, tangible, and this is the key point: as something life changing, the way your life changes is the result of a real experience, not an illusion.

The Pope points to 2 significant things that indicate the reality of that experience, things that we might be so familiar with that we mistakenly take them for granted: the fact that Christians meet on Sunday, and the fact that the early Christians said that Jesus rose on the "third" day.
For us, it might not seem a big deal that we meet on Sunday. But we need to remember that the first Christians were Jews, they observed the Sabbath, on Saturday, and this was a practice that made them different to all the peoples roundabout them, this was a practice that defined their Jewish identity. So, they would only have abandoned that practice on the basis of something definite and solid and important. And it is only reasonable to conclude that the only reason they did this was because of the truth of their claim that their Lord Jesus Christ had Risen on a Sunday.
This is a powerful indication that their claim to have met the risen Christ was a tangible experience.

Pope Benedict makes another interesting point when he reflects on the fact that the disciples were clearly NOT EXPECTING the Resurrection to happen. He notes that just as nobody expected the Messiah to come in the form of a CRUCIFIED Messiah, similarly, no one was expecting a bodily Resurrection(p.245). While the many passages in the Old Testament prophesying the Messiah seem clear to us in retrospect, it's nonetheless significant that there were no rabbis at the time who were teaching about and expecting a Crucified Messiah and a Risen Messiah. So, for example, although the New Testament says that Jesus "was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures"(1 Cor 15:4), there is no word-for-word Old Testament reference to a "third day" (p.257). Why then did the early disciples insist repeatedly that it happened on the "third day"? Surely, only because their experience of the event connected it to that day.

What have I been saying? In summary, that the Gospel accounts of the resurrection appearances of our Lord are historically credible because there are so many aspects of the early Christian Church that only makes sense if those first disciples had experienced an encounter with their Risen Lord as profound, real, and unexpected as they claimed it was.
And for us today that means we can celebrate the Resurrection, despite the scoffing of some sceptics, we can celebrate the Resurrection with confidence as a historical reality.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Vigil, Baptism, Shaftesbury

Tonight we have someone, Catherine, being baptised. Which means that it’s a useful time to reflect on the significance of being baptised, and on baptism’s connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I want, in particular, to suggest that we each consider a particular question: what difference does being baptised make to how you attempt to live? Or, do you live as if you hadn’t been baptised?

For example, to return to the “new commandment” I preached about on Thursday night, do you attempt to live that commandment (to love) by your own power, or, by the power of Jesus in you?
Because, if you’re just trying to do it by your own power then you’re acting as if you hadn’t been baptised.

Baptism gives us a new power but it’s a power we can ignore, or, a power we can habitually use.
Baptism gives us a power that those who are not baptised do not have.
Of course, the Church teaches that God gives His grace even outside the Church, as an old priest I knew used to put it, “God is not a snob”. But, nonetheless, His grace is particularly effective in those incorporated into Him in Baptism, incorporated into His death, and resurrection, and the pouring of the Holy Spirit –because this is what baptism is all about.

Baptism, of course, is an event of such colossal and fundamental significance in the Christian life that there is not just one but a great many different, interrelated, truths that are contained within it. That's why we have a whole plethora of different symbols in tonight's baptismal liturgy. But rather than attempt to explain all the symbols tonight I want to point to what connects the two most fundamental realities that underlie them: purification from sins and the new birth in the Holy Spirit (Catechism 1262).
These two things, however, are meaningless without each other: the washing of water would have no supernatural effect if it was not for the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit can hardly come in us unless that dwelling within us involves u changing from our present state of sin to being something that is worthy of being a Temple for Him to dwell within.

Baptism washes us clean of sin; it involves a commitment to renounce sin, with a profession of faith in the One who claims the power to forgive sins.
Baptism brings new life, but the new life that Jesus promised, the new life that His Spirit brings, this new life involves such a drastic change within us that it must involve a death within us. As St Paul classically put it: the Old Man Adam must die that the New Man Christ may live (c.f. Rom 5:12; 6:4).

But how can such new life come about in us? The answer to that question takes us to the heart of why it is that we celebrate baptism on this most holy of nights, on the night of the Easter Vigil, on the night when Christ Himself passed from death to life:
we can only pass from death to life by being incorporated into the One who, for our sakes, freely chose to pass through death to life, who passed from death to life to make us new.

And we pass from death to life, we are incorporated into Christ, not by our own power but by the power of His Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts, poured into our hearts in baptism.
The relationship between the Holy Spirit and baptism was first most publicly manifested in the baptism of our Lord Himself, when as He came up from the waters the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove.

To return to where I began, what does this mean for those of us who have already been baptised, as well as for Catherine who is about to be baptised? It means that we have a new power dwelling within us. A new power that we can, inasmuch that we open ourselves to avail of it, a new power that can make us a new creature that is able to do we cannot do alone: a new power that even means we can keep the "new commandment" to love as He first loved us.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday, The High Priest, Shaftesbury

We have just heard the horror of Jesus’s death, and it is worth our while to take a moment to contemplate WHY this should matter to us, WHO He is TO US, why we should care, why we should even be glad on this "Good" Friday.
To consider "who" Jesus is to us we can consider the many titles that Jesus has, and one of those titles, as we heard in our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, is that He is our "high priest". And I want to reflect on this using, again, some thoughts from Pope Benedict's new book.

It might seem, at first glance, that the title "priest" doesn't seem significant enough for Jesus. It might be possible to think, "why do I really want or need a priest?"
Well, the reason that the priesthood of Jesus is so significant in terms of who He is, is largely because of the TYPE of priest that He is.
A priest is someone who represents men in their relations to God (Heb 5:1). And, in particular, a priest represents us precisely in those parts of our lives that are most in need of being represented to God: those things by which we are separated from God. And the thing by which we feel most separated from God is our weakness, our weakness in two respects: our weakness in sin, and, in our general frailty -both of these are things whereby we feel separated from the Almighty.

But Jesus is not just ANY sort of priest, He is the perfect priest, the "high priest" of high priests. He is the one best able to represent us in our weaknesses because, as we heard in that letter to the Hebrews, because of His experience of suffering and weakness He is therefore capable of feeling our weaknesses with us (Heb 4:15).
He is therefore able to hold up to the Almighty the anguish of human existence and so bring man to God (Jesus of Nazareth, vol 2,.164).

It was precisely to be such a high priest for us that "Christ came into the world"(Heb 10:5).
It was precisely to be such a high priest for us that Christ started His public ministry, in which His destiny to make “vicarious atonement” for our sins "constituted the most profound content of [His] mission”(p.172).
It was precisely to be such a high priest that He "consecrated Himself"(Jn 17:19), as He said in the prayer that is called His “high priestly prayer” at the Last Supper -using a Greek word that made clear that this "consecration" was dedicating Himself to be the sacrifice(p.87).
And, it was precisely as such a high priest that He been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah as we heard in our first reading, that He might be both priest and victim: as priest by "surrendering Himself to death" (Isa 53:10); that the Lord might burden Him "with the sins of us all”(Isa 53:6) (p.81), as victim.

This said, however, let us not imagine that this suffering was something that came easily to Him.
Let us not forget the battle He experienced within His very self in the Agony in the Garden. It was there, as He beheld the horror of sin, as He contemplated the suffering He was about to undergo for our sakes, it was there that in His human will He prayed "let this cup pass me by” (Mt 26:39). Now, Jesus is truly God and truly man, He has both a human will and a divine will (pp.156-61), and I say this to acknowledge that it is impossible for us to know what it feels like to have two wills, to know what it feels like to be God. But, we do know that the horror of confronting sin and the horror of the death that awaited Him, this horror was so profound that it was a struggle –He sweated blood (Lk 22:44).

And yet, He obeyed, for our sakes.
He obeyed as the high priest, for us, His obedient "yes" brings disobedient mankind to God(pp.163-4, c.f. pp.233-5).
As we heard in the letter to the Hebrews it was by obeying through suffering that He was "made perfect" (Heb 5:9) -and the Pope notes that this phrase “made perfect” (that might well sound strange to us in English, how can the sinless perfect One be “made perfect”?), this phrase is another technical Greek phrase referring to priesthood: to "make perfect" is a phrase “used exclusively to mean ‘consecrated as priest’”(p.164).

Jesus prayed as our priest. The old Jewish high priest would pray firstly for himself, secondly for his house, and thirdly for all of Israel (p.78). The Lord Jesus likewise prayed firstly for Himself (that He might do the work He came to do), secondly for the Apostles, and thirdly for all who would believe (Jn 17:20).
Jesus died as priest. The old Jewish high priest wore a long seamless garment (p.217). Jesus went to His death, as we heard in that gospel account (Jn 19:23), wearing a long seamless garment that the soldiers cast lots for rather than tear.
And Jesus lives now as a priest, as OUR priest having gone before us "through to the highest heaven" (Heb 4:14), carrying with Him all of our human weakness.
It is precisely in our weakness that we can turn to Him, the priest and victim, the perfect high priest who has known our weakness.
"Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from Him and find grace and we are in need of help"(Heb 4:16).

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Holy Thursday, The New Commandment, Shaftesbury

Jn 13:1-15
Tonight I want to say a few words about the symbolism of the washing of feet, the washing of feet as done by Jesus as we heard in that gospel passage, which will be symbolically reenacted when I wash feet in a few moments time. And, I want in particular to explain the significance of this using the comments of Pope Benedict in his new book (Jesus of Nazareth, vol 2,p.63ff) [which I also cited in my Palm Sunday sermon].

Pope Benedict comments on the significance of the foot washing done by the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of the question of the "new commandment". The Lord Jesus, as we know, gave what He called a "new commandment": "love one another, as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). While we didn't hear these words in tonight's gospel, these words, this commandment, was uttered by the Lord in the verses that followed Him giving this example of washing His disciples feet in profound humility. In washing those feet, as we just heard, He gave "an example so that you may copy what I have done to you" (Jn 13:15).
At a superficial glance therefore it would seem as if the "new commandment" was simply to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict, however, notes that the new commandment is about much more than just the example of Jesus.

Now, this is an important point, because there are many people throughout the world today who think that Christian morality is about nothing more than following the example of Jesus Christ. They think that Jesus was a great man, a great teacher, a great MORAL teacher. Many, however, mistakenly think He was ONLY a man and so they think that His new commandment consists ONLY in His example.
This notion, however, the notion that Jesus is just a good man, that all that Jesus gives us is an example, even if possibly a perfect example, this notion fails to understand the very “essence” of Christianity -and this is Pope Benedict's concern.

The "new commandment" says that we must love “as I have loved you", and it is possible to misread that in such a way that we think that loving as Jesus would have us love is simply about a more extreme moral EFFORT. That Jesus loved a huge amount, Jesus loved so much that He died for us, and that to love "as I have loved you" is to love with such a huge effort.
But, such a notion reduces the essence of Christianity to just being about external behaviour, it fails to grasp the type of INTERNAL change that Christianity involves.
To love "as I have loved you" includes a more extreme moral effort, but much more importantly it includes something else: it means loving IN and WITH Jesus, it means having Jesus inside of us doing the loving. It means the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us, forming us inside into the image and likeness of Christ, such that Christ is loving in us, such that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”(Gal 2:20).

This is Pope Benedict’s point, this is what he refers to as concerning the "essence" of Christianity. And in saying this he is drawing on the wisdom of the saints and ancients who have gone before him: for example, the great St Thomas Aquinas, in explaining the nature of the "new law" teaches that “the New Law is chiefly the grace itself of the Holy Spirit, which is given to those who believe in Christ” (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II q106 a1

But, there is an even deeper truth that penetrates to the core of this new commandment, that concerns the "essence" of Christianity, and this deeper truth indicates why Jesus gave the new commandment on the night before He died:
Possessing the new life of Jesus Christ within us consists in participating in the new life He won for us, consists in participating in His own suffering, death, and resurrection.
The only way that we can live the new commandment, the only way that we can receive His Holy Spirit and grace in faith, is by the All Man Adam dying within us and the New Man Christ coming to live within us. And so the giving of the new commandment looks ahead to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of His Holy Spirit that flows from it.
All of this is what the new commandment, the external manifestation of which is shown in the humble loving service of the washing of feet, all of this is what is on display for us tonight.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday, Year A, Shaftesbury

"His blood be on us and on our children" (Mt 27:25)
-I want to say a few words today about the meaning and significance of that verse. I want to say a few words about why we should WANT His blood to be upon us. In particular, I want to explain the interpretation of this verse given to us by the Holy Father in his new book. This is a horrific image. But it is a horrific image that conveys an incredible truth, a truth that fundamentally changes our relationship with the Almighty.

The Pope builds on the letter to the Hebrews (12:24) where the epistle makes a comparison between the blood of Able in the Old Testament and the blood of Jesus Christ. Able was murdered by his brother Cain, and the Bible tells us that Able’s “blood cried out” for vengeance and punishment upon the brother who murdered him. In this sense, to say, "let his blood be on us", is to invoke a curse upon yourself, and as these words were originally said by the crowd to Pontius Pilate they must have been said with contempt and dismissal of Jesus, dismissal of the significance of such a curse.
However, the blood of Jesus is different -it does not cry out for vengeance. As the Holy Father explains (Jesus of Nazareth. Part 2, p.187), the blood of Jesus Christ was not poured out AGAINST anyone, but rather was poured out FOR many, for the nations.
The blood of Jesus brings not a curse, but redemption.
The blood of Jesus brings the purifying power of His blood.

Let us consider for a moment how we would stand before the Almighty WITHOUT the blood of Jesus. Let us consider what would be the status of our relationship with the Almighty.
I stand before the Lord as a sinner. Daily, and hourly, I commit fresh sins against the Lord: laziness, wasted time, selfishness, impatience – continually failing in my sins to be the better person that God would have me be.
How then do I stand before the Lord? I stand separated from the Lord. And, my sins cry out for vengeance against me, as truly as the blood of Able cried out for vengeance.
What I need, is a new basis of my relationship with my heavenly Father.

What does the blood of Jesus do?
Scripture tells us, that the Christian stands "washed in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14 c.f. 1:5). Washed clean from our sins. Washed so that I have a new basis for my relationship with the Almighty.
And, the words of the Lord Jesus tell us something else about the basis, the new basis, for Christian’s relationship with the Lord: His is the blood of a "new covenant".

Now, the word "covenant" is not a word that we use in our modern language. But it is a concept that has similarities with the notion of a "contract" – it involves a commitment between two people, and establishes the basis of the relationship between those people. In particular, in the ancient near East a "covenant" typically established a bond, a relationship between a king and his people.
In the Old Testament, under the old covenant, the people of Israel had the basis of their relationship with the Almighty established by their faithfulness to the Law that He had given them. That covenant was established and sealed with blood (Ex 24:3-8): the blood of sacrificed bulls was scattered upon the people AND upon the altar -as a sign of being upon the Lord. The sacrificial blood sealed the relationship between them.
But, given that that relationship was broken again and again by the people by their unfaithfulness to the Law, by their unfaithfulness in sin, there was a need for a prophesied "new covenant"(Jer 31:31 c.f. Heb 8:6-13) -a new covenant built on a new basis.
The new covenant that Jesus brings is the covenant in His blood. And this is what we need. His is the blood of the new sacrifice, better than the blood of sacrificed bulls. His is the blood that we need to have upon us as the blood of the old covenant was on the people of the old covenant.
THIS IS THE POINT: the old covenant relationship was established by the blood of the sacrificed bull being cast “upon” the people; the new covenant relationship we now enjoy is likewise established by the blood of Jesus being “upon” us –even though that happens spiritually and not physically.

So, in conclusion, where does this leave me now? How do I stand, if I stand with His blood is "on" me? How do I stand if I stand washed in His blood?
I stand washed clean.
I stand washed clean, as often as I return to be washed again and again in the blood of the Lamb.
I stand in the midst of a transformation:
the blood that had been a thing of horror, and death,
the blood that had been the thing of a curse
that blood, has become a blessing,
the tree of death has become the tree of life
the blood of curse has become the blood of blessing and forgiveness and new life.

And so we would do well to take the words of the people long ago and make them into a prayer for ourselves, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Mt 27:25).

Glory be to Jesus,
Who, in bitter pains,
Poured for me the lifeblood
From His sacred veins!

Grace and life eternal
In that blood I find;
Blest be His compassion,
Infinitely kind.

Blest through endless ages
Be the precious stream
Which from endless torments
Doth the world redeem.

Abel's blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.

Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion
Terror struck departs.

Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Angel hosts, rejoicing,
Make their glad reply.

Lift we then our voices,
Swell the mighty flood;
Louder still and louder
Praise the precious blood!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

5th Sunday Lent, Year A, Shaftesbury

Jn 11:1-45
I want to say a few words today connecting some thoughts about faith, about forgiveness, and about hope -all in the light of Lazarus being raised from the dead.

I think that one of the startling things about that gospel narrative we just heard, is to listen to the depth of faith in Martha. Even after her brother's death, she said to Jesus, "I know that even now, whatever you ask of God, He will grant you."

Deep faith is a great thing, and one of the ways we can deepen our faith is by recognising WHERE our faith comes from. Where is it that we RECEIVE our faith from?
I refer to the language of "receiving" faith in part because today we are having a deeply symbolic act of faith: the catechumen in our parish, Catherine Simmonds, who is preparing for adult baptism, will be presented with the Creed. This is a sign of how all of us "receive" our faith. How is it that we know about Jesus Christ? How is it that we know the truths that are contained in the Scriptures? How is it that we know about the reality that we experience in the sacraments?
We only know these things because we have been told them. We only know these things because these truths have been passed on to us, because we have received these truths. We have received these truths from the Church -and this is an intrinsic part of what faith, true faith, is about.
That is what will be symbolised in Catherine being presented with the Creed, receiving it by listening to us profess it. And she will make her formal assent to that faith as she professes it herself before her baptism at the Easter vigil.

To return to the account about Lazarus.
There are truths of the faith being offered to us in this account about Lazarus.
And we will only "receive" those truths of the faith if we approach them with the spirit of faith, open to the Holy Spirit deepening our faith.
So, in terms of those truths in that narrative:
We might note the compassion and care of our Lord that is manifested in human emotions in this passage in a way that is more obvious than perhaps anywhere else in the Gospels: it is here that we have the brief statement that, "Jesus wept". It is here that we have the phrase, "Jesus said in great distress with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’" It is here that we have the Lord's loving but powerful command, "Lazarus, here! Come out!” Followed by the deeply symbolic words, "unbind him, let him go free".

For us, in the holy season of Lent, the holy season when, as I preached last week, we should be feeling sorrow for our sins, and might even be feeling dejection and despair as we contemplate our failure, for us in this holy season those words that were addressed to Lazarus can be seen as profoundly symbolic of how the Lord wishes to raise us up, raise us up from our sins.
Jesus “weeps” for our sins. He "sighs" for our sins. And when we are imprisoned in our sins He too says to us, "Here! Come out!" And though our sins bind us He wishes that the forgiveness He offers may come to us and that we may be "unbound" from our sins.
And, if we receive these truths in faith, then these truths of faith will give us hope.
But, these truths of faith will only give us hope we "receive” them. "If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Sunday, 3 April 2011

4th Sunday Lent, Year A, Shaftesbury

Jn 9:1-41
I'd like to put a question to you today: When did you last weep for your sins?
Or, maybe if you're not the crying type: When did you last come NEAR to weeping for your sins?

Lent is a time when we should be thinking about our sins and weeping for our sins. And I would like to point out that this is actually yet another way in which Lent can become a season of joy.
I've spoken previously about how our fasting, our "giving things up the Lent", can make Lent a time of joy because this fasting opens us more to the everlasting and deeper joys of heaven.
But there is another way in which Lent can become a season of joy, and that is by following the path from sorrow for our sins to rejoicing in being forgiven for our sins.

Catholics, at least English Catholics, are perhaps not stereotypically associated with deep outward displays of emotion in our repentance for our sins. Perhaps we would be more likely to expect an American evangelical on the TV to be gushing forth in tears as he publicly proclaims his sins, and then publicly rejoices in the fact that Jesus has forgiven him. However, regardless of how it is outwardly displayed, the experience of knowing that we are sinners, feeling deep sorrow for our sins, but then feeling an even deeper joy in experiencing the forgiveness of the Lord -this should be part of the experience of each one of us. That’s why the saints of old had a special prayer asking for the gift of "holy tears".

However, in contrast with “holy tears”, quite often I will have people say to me: I know I'm not perfect, I know that I must have sinned since my last confession, but I honestly can't think of anything in particular that I’ve done, I can think of any sins I’ve committed.
Such a statement is a good starting point in that it realises there is a problem. But I need to be honest with you and point out that this is nonetheless a SERIOUS problem, a problem that needs to be addressed.
If we think back to that gospel passage that I just read out, Jesus condemned the Pharisees because of their spiritual blindness, because of the fact that they did not see their sins.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us... If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”(1 Jn 1:8;10)
If we think that we are not sinning then this is not a sign that we are better than other people, rather, it is a sign that we are worse because we are spiritually blind like the Pharisees.

So, how can we come to see the sins that we presently do not see?
This is a question that we all need to address: those of us who cannot think of any sins, but also those of us who can think of some sins -because there are almost certainly other sins we need to see also.
How can we come to see them?
First, we must pray, that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us. The Spirit gives the gift of joy but He also gives us the gift of sorrow for our sins –a sorrow that leads to joy afterwards.
Second, we must examine ourselves. A good written examination of conscience can be a great help in this regard: a written list of sins can be like a mirror that we gaze upon and see the features, not of our face, but of our fallen lives.
If we are not familiar with doing this it will be hard work at first. But like so many things in life the more often we do it the easier it becomes, and the less burdensome it becomes, and the more it can become what I started by saying it should be, namely, a path to joy. In terms of familiarity and regularity, the practice of a nightly examination of conscience is an important tool in the spiritual life. And, of course, all of this should lead towards regular use of the sacrament of confession -and anything less than monthly confession will make it very difficult for us to remember our sins.

There have been no jokes in today's sermon. Sin and spiritual blindness are not a laughing matter.
Nonetheless, to quote from that same passage, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins”(1 Jn1:9). And the experience of knowing forgiveness brings a greater joy than the sorrow that precedes it -but we will only have that joy if we are open to recognising those things in our daily life about which we need to have sorrow. When did you last weep for your sins?

A link to a examination of conscience on the seven deadly sins is available here:

A link to an examination of conscience for teenagers is available here: