Toward more prodigal-son moments - Catholic Courier

Toward more prodigal-son moments

Some years back, I attended a parish young-adult gathering where the speaker emphasized the need to confess our sins daily. She suggested that we record those sins in a journal each night and then ask God’s forgiveness.

My hand went up. I told her that I journal regularly and, yes, do acknowledge when I fall short of godliness. But I added that a good chunk of my journaling also examines where I’ve made spiritual progress, and I deem that to be at least as, if not more, important.

The speaker seemed taken aback, which was a bit distressing to me. That little exchange has stuck with me — not because of her suggestion, but what she didn’t suggest.

I’ve spent a lifetime praying, "Lord, I am not worthy," "pray for us sinners" and "forgive us our trespasses," and for good reason. I am a very imperfect person, so you’d better believe I need to confess my sins and receive reminders of where I fall short.

However, I do wonder — especially based on the homilies I’ve heard over the years — if we Catholics are so bent on acknowledging our imperfections and unworthiness, we don’t allow ourselves the satisfaction of being on the right track. Might not a bit of affirmation and encouragement help motivate us at least as effectively as dwelling on our spiritual screw-ups?

To me, when we do what’s pleasing to God, that’s worth celebrating — and Jesus said as much in his story of the prodigal son. The son’s father, rather than lambaste his boy for his previous sinfulness, rewarded him with a big celebration for his repentance.

In the same way, I think we could all stand to accord ourselves a few little prodigal-son reflections at the end of our day.

What do you think?


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