“. . . that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
If you have read the introduction to my book, A Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, I discussed a lesson on the First Sorrow that I learned from a sermon one Sunday at my church. Then I heard the same point made in a talk given by Father Chad Ripperger that I found on the Internet. This lesson really resonated with me.
The teaching explained that Simeon’s prophecy not only foretold the depth of pain that our Blessed Mother would endure throughout Jesus’s life, but as the spiritual mother of mankind, her pain would also allow her to assist us to know our sins. “. . . that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” These thoughts apparently are the things that we hide from ourselves, frequently sins of which we are not immediately aware.
Trouble with Examination of Conscience?
I’m guessing that I’m not alone in having trouble at times to do a thorough examination of conscience. I’m clear that if I am out of bed going about my day, I have probably sinned. But what if something specific doesn’t jump out at me? Blatant detraction, extreme impatience, anger? This has often caused me to put off going to confession for far too long.
But if we take this concern to our Sorrowful Mother, she will help us to see ourselves more clearly. Now that is not always comfortable. But I must admit that the first time I really experienced her help with this, I felt consolation in the confidence that I was able to make a much better confession of my sins.
For me, she really taught me to look at my thoughts. I realized that while I may often control outward expressions of resentment, competition, impatience – my slate was not so clean on the inside. Unfortunately, I had to face the sin of comparison!
Now of course not all comparisons are sinful, but if my feelings are hurt, certain relationships aren’t where I want them, something isn’t going my way, I now know how easily I slip into comparison. I even had the priest character in my next book quip, “Sometimes I wonder why comparison wasn’t the eighth capital sin!” Now of course that isn’t necessary because God already had comparisons covered in pride, envy, and vanity!
“We can treat negative thoughts like intruders in the brain.”
Now that Our Lady has shown me, oh how those comparisons can nip at me like nasty little demons! This was a humbling lesson because it takes practice and determination to identify the root thought and then to not to let it fester. “We can treat negative thoughts like intruders in the brain.” That is a little tool I learned from “Mental Health through Will Training” by Dr. Abraham Low. He was not a Catholic writer, but what could be more Catholic than trying to train your will? This is a tool I have to return to frequently.
For me, I’ve learned that I must monitor my emotions. When I suddenly feel a sharp jab, I need to stop and ask why. Am I feeling jealous, disrespected, dismissed, ignored? Why? I rarely like what I see, but it is the best way to see my sins and failings. And if I own them, I have a chance of not repeating them. Easier said than done, but it’s a start.
I am truly thankful that I found help from Our Lady of Sorrows. I hope you’ll consult with her the next time you are preparing for confession.
Have a blessed week!