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Saturday, March 1, 2008

"What I want is love, not sacrifice"

Today's liturgical readings offer a moving image of the Lord who calls repeatedly for us to turn to his mercy. In the first reading from Hosea (6:1-6), however, the human response to this call is shown for what it is: less than wholehearted: "Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away."

And still God appeals to us: "For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

Lent is a wonderful time to encounter the Lord's love and mercy anew through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Last year we published a marvelous booklet on "reconciliation and the beauty of God," called Why Go to Confession? This little gem of a book (it's only 72 pages!) addresses some of the difficult questions contemporary persons have regarding confessing to a priest, the existence of sin and evil in our world today, and how the experience of God's forgiveness can free us for love. There is also a beautiful lectio divina on the parable of the Prodigal Son, Scripture texts that help us better enter into a personal examination of conscience, and questions for reflection based on the 10 commandments. The following is taken from the introduction:

Let's try to understand, together, what confession is. If you truly understand it--in your mind as well as your heart--you will feel the need for this encounter and experience its joy. It is an encounter in which God, in giving you his forgiveness through the ministry of the Church, creates a new heart and places a new spirit within you, so that you may live in reconciliation with God, with yourself, and with others, becoming capable of offering forgiveness and love yourself, leaving behind any temptation to distrust or any sense of weariness.

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