Archive for the ‘Confession’ Category

Revealing The Passions of the Soul

March 16, 2023

Evagrius observed, “The spoken word or some movement of the body is a sign of the passions of the soul.”

He was writing to monks who had left society for the desert in order to find and live with God. Perhaps it helps to have visited one of those places in the desert in order to fix the scene in our modern minds. Seeing the world through their eyes as a battle between those forces that would have one or another of our passions control us versus the force of God. We can also get a sense from the story of Jesus going into the desert to face some of those temptations directly and thus solidifying his relationship with his Father.

Evagrius continued in this teaching, number 47 in the Praktikos, to discuss how the forces trying to undermine us use those signs against us while God knows our hearts at all times.

But we also can use those signs as we reflect at the end of the day on what we said or did in order to discern the state of our soul.

Only in that way can we further our spiritual development.

People who know us and care for us also use those signs to perhaps encourage us to find help when we might need it—a counsellor, therapist, pastor, workshop, 12-step program.

What goes on inside us inevitably reveals itself to the outer world. Guard your thoughts.

How Are We Known?

January 13, 2021

Jesus said that not everyone who calls him Lord will be saved.

Jesus also said that we will be known as his followers by how we love one another. He also said the greatest commandment was love—for God and for our neighbor. He illustrated the definition of neighbor with a story where the hero was someone of a hated race.

As we sit in our evening reflection upon that which we have done with our day—the Ignatian daily Examen—-how do we honestly and humbly evaluate ourselves? We have perhaps said or implied that we are Christian. Have we actually acted—in speech or deed—like a person whom Jesus would welcome as a follower?

Once upon a time, our words and deeds were exposed only to those few around us who thought and acted like us. Now, we post on social media and as these words and photos get “liked” and “shared” we are exposed to perhaps a very large audience. And there we are—no longer hidden to where only a few people close to us know our darkest thoughts. Or deeds.

Not everyone who calls Jesus Lord…

Makes me reflect on my daily shortcomings. And no excuses for moving to a new community where I am almost completely unknown and where there is a pandemic keeping us isolated (or should). Where did I fall short in word or deed?

I Saw The Light

September 1, 2017
Just like a blind man, I wandered along;
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.
--Hank Williams, Sr.

This week we’ve taken a deep dive into the story of Jesus healing a man blind from birth. This story has all the themes of John, Jesus best friend. Tension with the rulers. Healing on the Sabbath. Light and dark. Seeing and not seeing.

Hank Williams captured this in his country gospel song (that incidentally I’ll be singing Sunday so it’s on my mind).

At the end of the story, we see (pun) that the blind man has gained both physical sight and spiritual sight. He’s seen the light on both sides now.

Jesus comments with one of his usual cryptic sayings, “I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” And some religious leaders, one of those with the Ph.D. from the University of Shammai (the rabbi), responded, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”

That would be what we call an ironic statement, I believe. They thought they could see, so Jesus told them their sin remains. But in reality, they are living an ancient teaching from God, “Seeing, they do not perceive.”

The question is presented to us, can we become aware of our blindness so that Jesus can help us see?s

-Gary Mintchell

Compassion and Confession Go Together

August 23, 2016

We read in the letter of James to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed.

Confession–a spiritual discipline I may never have discussed. It consists of the admitting to trusted others and to God the thoughts we have dwelled upon or actions we have done or not done that brought us farther away from God and others.

If we confess, then we are healed. Before we confess, we must recognize. When we see ourselves in those things and realize it, then we can tell others in a trusted atmosphere and seek healing. Just ask a therapist. Or an experienced pastor.

What started this line of thinking, believe it or not, was the serious lack of compassion that I see in our society. I hear or read so many callous remarks describing other people. It is so easy to dismiss people who are not like us by grouping them together and then trying to sound either funny or wise by describing them in sometimes very nasty terms.

This, by the way, is not an American phenomenon. I’ve seen it pop up in many cultures. It’s a human problem.

I’m not a “welfare state” liberal who believes I can absolve myself of responsibility for compassion by passing it on to the government. Can you imagine the power in society if all the congregations that call themselves Christian lived out Jesus’ teachings about compassion and helping the poor? Wow!

Some can be found helping others while remaining with a superior attitude. “I’ll toss them a couple of dollars,” they think. This is arrogance and condescension. Not compassion.

Compassion is not “bleeding heart liberalism” like many conservatives used to label people (or maybe still do, I don’t know). Compassion is controlled emotion. It begins with recognizing our own shortcomings. Realizing with gratitude the grace that has come to us. Wanting from the heart to share that grace.

Confession and compassion–a lifestyle of grace turned outward.