How I Learned to Discern to God’s Will (And Also How Not To)

 The whole thing---the will of God thing---is tricky.As a teenager, in Evangelical circles, it was worn like something of a badge of honour: A young adult tromping off in this or that direction---following this or that fancy---would declare it to be the unequivocal "Will of God" and entertain no detractors.It was a Trump Card---in every sense of the word.But how we discerned such an important thing---what God wanted from us---what such a convoluted, serpentine … [Read more...]

Thoughts from a Convert in the Confessional Line

 I'm not going to write an apologetic for why confession makes sense. I've written that before.Suffice to say, if you believe, as I do, that the Catholic Church exists in a long line of successors right back to the very first apostles appointed by Christ, then confession makes sense."Whoever's sins you forgive are forgiven," Christ told his hand-picked apostles. The Catholic Church carries on that sacred tradition, two-thousand years later.That a priest can "forgive" my sins … [Read more...]

Why Do Catholics Go to Confession Anyway?

Sin is a dirty word.As an Evangelical Protestant we rarely spoke about it.I know that's not the experience of all evangelicals---maybe not even the majority---but it was certainly my experience in an array of denominations, too.–Sin was something we knew about, sure.Sin was something for which we were all culpable.Sin was even preached about the occasional Sunday morning---or whispered about on at a mid-week Bible study.But it was always sin in the sense of, "This is what … [Read more...]

Going to First Confession As an Evangelical Convert

I'm utterly convinced that confession is the single greatest gift God gave to our weary world.Forgiveness of our sins, yes, but through confession.It's the mechanism that makes sense of the salvation story in a way that I couldn't have possibly imagined before becoming Catholic.Confession is an incredible gift.A gift that, as an Evangelical convert to the Catholic faith, has completely blown me away. Reconciliation with God To understand the Sacrament of Reconciliation requires … [Read more...]

The Audacity of Unmerited Grace

Picture the one person on earth that you like the least.There's gotta be somebody.(Even saints have their bad days.)For me it's easy. See, we used to have these neighbours.Now, picture what it would be like to completely forgive all the hurts and hang-ups you've long associated with that one god-awful person---or persons.Gone.Completely forgiven.What would that feel like?Probably pretty insane.First,  it would probably be incredibly difficult to let it all go. … [Read more...]

On Lent and Letting Go of Grudges

I've held a grudge for a long time, I'm not proud to say.I'm not exactly the grudging holding kind of person. You know who I mean, the kind of person who goes around dragging a thousand pound weight tied around their neck. The kind of person that you meet and you can tell they're nursing a grudge. I'm not one of those people, but maybe I am. Maybe we are all, in our own private ways. And maybe Lent---a traditional time of repentance and penance---is the perfect time to let it go.Not may … [Read more...]

The New Year’s Resolution Every Catholic Should Be Making

With the declaration, by Pope Francis, of this year as a special Jubilee Year of Mercy Catholics all over the world are being called to demonstrate what is meant to be that chief Christian virtue: Mercy.And if you, like most of us, are up for adopting a soon-to-be-shamefully-abandoned New Year's resolution then this is the perfect one for you: have mercy.Have mercy.To say that Christians should be known for their mercy goes, I guess, without saying. Mercy, Pope Francis says, is "the … [Read more...]

Trusting God (When It Really Counts)

I've written before, actually twice, about the incredible experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.As an Evangelical I read verses in the New Testament like James 5:16 with dissatisfaction. I was openly critical of my faith tradition in light of passages, like these, which clearly extolled us to confess to each other, and not just in private, to God.We simply didn't do it even though it was clearly, sometimes urgently, commanded of us.As a Catholic I've come to hold confession i … [Read more...]

Confession, the Gym, and Taking Sin Seriously

The s-word.As an Evangelical Protestant we rarely spoke about sin. I know that's not the experience of all evangelicals---maybe not even the majority---but it was certainly my experience. Sin was something we knew about. Sin was something for which we were all culpable. Sin was even preached about the occasional Sunday morning---or whispered about on a Wednesday night.But it was always sin in the sense of, "This is what you shouldn't be doing. You need to ask God for forgiveness, and li … [Read more...]

How First Confession Blew My Mind

I'm convinced, utterly, that confession is the single greatest gift God gave this weary world.A gift that's found solely in the Catholic Church.A gift that, as a Protestant converting to the Catholic faith, has completely blown me away.I began my journey into the Catholic Church nearly a decade ago but I began the final leg, in earnest, this Fall, when I enrolled in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) at my local parish. I've had mixed experiences, to be sure. I've … [Read more...]