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The Happy Priest: Ash Wednesday, Examination of Conscience and Conversion

By Fr. James Farfaglia
March 9th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The ashes on our forehead remind us of the human condition: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. However, sometimes, you will have to go real deep and discover inner attitudes that may be the root of your sinful behavior.  Sometimes you will need a spiritual colonoscopy.

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Every car or truck carries in the glove compartment a maintenance schedule.  Having your oil changed, your tires rotated and balanced, and the rest of the engine checked keeps your vehicle in excellent shape. 

We have an annual physical, an annual eye exam and we should go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned.  Preventative health will keep us in great shape and could be the way that serious health issues are detected.

Lent is a time of self-examination.  We need to look at ourselves very carefully. 

Our goal is to reach heaven.  Not everyone goes to heaven.  Is there something or a number of things that may keep you from going to heaven?  Is there a sin, an inordinate attachment or an addiction that could prevent you from gaining eternal salvation?

Many disasters could have been prevented if the warning signs were not ignored.  If a particular bridge was inspected the way it should have been, perhaps it would not have collapsed during rush hour traffic.  Maybe many marriages could have been saved if there was proper examination, detection and resolution. Maybe many priestly vocations could have been saved with proper formation and support.  Perhaps many of the terrible scandals in the Catholic Church could have been avoided if the signs and the reports were not ignored. 

There is a pervasive and characteristic weakness within our modern culture - we don't want to examine and resolve problems.  Do you remember the television series Hogan's Heroes?  We are faced with the Shultz Syndrome.  - I see nothing.

Usually our sins, tendencies, attitudes and weaknesses will be easy to detect.  We know who we are and we know what we need to do.

The ashes on our forehead remind us of the human condition: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

However, sometimes, you will have to go real deep and discover inner attitudes that may be the root of your sinful behavior.  Sometimes you will need a spiritual colonoscopy.

Lent is a Catholic colonoscopy.  We need to go deep into ourselves and look at ourselves very closely. 

Here is a list of questions that will help you. 

Do you have a serious spiritual life?

Do you attend Mass every Sunday unless you are very sick?

Do you do unnecessary work on Sunday?

Do you practice the virtue of charity?  Are you patient and kind?  Are you generous with your time?  Do you serve others?  Do you help the sick and the poor?  Do you need to forgive someone?

Are you materialistic?  Do you live beyond your means?  Do you have a lot of unnecessary credit card debt?  If so, are working on eliminating your debt?  Do you support your parish financially the way that you should?

Are you lazy?  Are you active in the apostolic life of the Catholic Church?  Do you study the Catholic Faith?  Are you content with mediocrity?

If you are marred, are you open to life?  Do you follow the Church's teaching regarding Natural Family Planning?  If you do not, are you willing to study the Church's teaching by reading Church documents and books that explain the Church's teaching with clarity and easy to understand terms?

Do you go to Confession on a regular basis?  Do you receive Communion with a good conscience?

In today's second reading from Saint Paul we hear these challenging words:  "Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6: 2).  Let this Lent be a time of conversion and spiritual growth.

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Father James Farfaglia, the Happy Priest, is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas and is a member of the Board of Directors of Human Life International.  Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum.  He has also published a book called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life.  You can click here for the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.  His second book, Get Serious! will be available soon.  You can visit Father James on the web at www.FatherJames.org. 

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