Where Renewal Starts…..
Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 It follows that if one of you eats the Lord’s bread or drinks from his cup in a way that dishonors him, you are guilty of sin against the Lord’s body and blood. 28 So then, you should each examine yourself first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For if you do not recognize the meaning of the Lord’s body when you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you bring judgment on yourself as you eat and drink. 30 That is why many of you are sick and weak, and several have died. 31 If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God’s judgment. 32 But we are judged and punished by the Lord, so that we shall not be condemned together with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:26-32 (TEV)
109 There is an enemy of the interior life which is both little and silly. Unfortunately, it can be very effective. It is the neglect of effort in one’s examination of conscience. (1)
For this reason private confession should be retained in the church, for in it consciences afflicted and crushed by the terrors of sin lay themselves bare and receive consolation which they could not acquire in public preaching. We want to open up confession as a port and refuge for those whose consciences the devil holds enmeshed in his snares and whom he completely bewitches and torments in such a way that they cannot free or extricate themselves and feel and see nothing else but that they must perish. For there is no other greater misery in this life than the pains and perplexities of a heart that is destitute of guidance and solace.
To such, then, an approach to confession should be opened up so that they may seek and find consolation among the ministers of the church. (2)
Growing up in the 1970’s there was a lot of talk of renewal, and movements which facilitated various renewals. There was a call for liturgical renewal, retreats that offered times of personal renewal, parish and congregational renewal, and the movement which was known as the Charismatic Renewal.
Each form of renewal brought promise, sometimes delivered, sometimes frustrated.
Then in the 90’s we replaced renewal with revival, and then revitalizatiom.
Now it seems that renewal, either personal, congregational, across a denomination, or across the entire church has been tossed aside. We’d rather close churches, and start something completely new. We’d rather give up on people whose faith has become dormant, and focus on new conversion. Or worse, offer hope to those churches and people, not through the renewal of their spirit, but through returning to the forms that left them dried, weary and with a withered faith.
How will these new lives survive when their new churches hit 20-25 years old (the age when some skeptics say churches begin to die) What will happen to the faith of these people who are guided toward the dry, repetitive faith that caused their churches to dwindle?
Or is there an option?
Could it be found in these words from Paul about the examination of our hearts and souls? Could it be in letting confession and the examination it offers fall into disuse we have hindered renewal/revival in the church, and if the church is not renewed, neither is the world?
What joy have we prevented people from knowing, what joy and peace could we offer them, simply by helping them realize their need for forgiveness while assuring them it is offered? What joy and peace have we neglected giving our people, what guilt and shame do they bear, not knowing they bear it without need?
We talk of wanting churches to grow, in number, faith and practice, yet we do not offer them the basic respite the psalmists craved, and rejoiced and rested as they received it.
What if we offered them a real chance to examine themselves, to consider their lives, to cry out for deliverance, to cry out in hope? What if our words assured them of God’s mercy, of the forgiveness He years to give, of the love He would assure them they have?
Our people need to examine themselves, knowing that they are doing so to find their freedom in Christ. To know that doing so will bring them life, as God sets aside all that would inhibit their life, and transform and make them Holy. For that is what absolution, that is our cleansing.
That is renewal, that is revival, that is life being restored to those who are weary and worn, broken and devastated.
May we, and our people cry out for the Lord’s mercy, knowing He who provides it is faithful.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 589-591). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 6: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 6, pp. 297–298). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Posted on April 26, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, st josemaria escriva, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged absolution, confession, examination of conscience, healing, hope, Martin Luther, mercy, renewal, revival, self examination, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.