Bishop Kemme: Go to confession, use Advent to ‘move forward’

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A blessed Advent to one and all!
One of the church’s most recently canonized saint and the only one canonized on American soil, St. Junipero Serra was apparently fond of saying, “Always Forward,” or in his native Spanish, Siempre Adelante! It is this expression that I think beautifully captures for us a true Advent spirit.
The church and her people, claimed for Christ in baptism, anointed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and daily nourished in the Most Holy Eucharist, is a pilgrim people, moving through history on her way to the ultimate encounter with God in Christ, Jesus.
Advent helps us remember to be always moving forward, toward the goal of our Christian faith, which is heaven. There, in that perpetual state of unending happiness and joy, we will find our true selves, our greatest fulfillment, and our deepest peace. The short, but ever so important season of Advent, a tiny Lent, if you will, reminds us to get our spiritual house in order, to be attentive to spiritual matters, to prepare ourselves by patience, perseverance and joyful expectation of the Lord’s solemn return. The Lord is coming, yes, but we are also moving toward him, always forward, siempre adelante!
Sadly, however, there are many among us who are stuck, going nowhere in their faith or even worse, going backwards, rejecting the path that God has marked out for them and choosing a backward direction, which distances them even more from the moment of this ultimate encounter with Christ. Are we among these people? If so, how can we get moving and in the right direction? If not, how can we make even greater progress in this pilgrimage to the Lord.
Here, I would suggest a couple of tried and true Catholic practices and devotions. The first is to make a good confession. Notice I said “good.” A good confession is a complete confession, offered in humility and trust. This must be preceded by a good examination of conscience. Use the Ten Commandments as a guide to help you examine your life; write down the sins that burden your heart and soul and take that “cheat sheet” with you into the confession.
Ask the priest to help you and to give you sufficient time to fully confess your sins. Believe me, when you do this and especially if you have not done this in a long time, you will emerge amazed at the weight that will be lifted from your shoulders. You will be renewed and energized to go forward in your spiritual life.
Another tried and true practice is to attend daily Mass. This may be more challenging, given your particular work and home schedule, but again, I promise you that if you give the Lord a little more room in your schedule for daily Mass, you will be amazed at how much this will help to reignite your faith, restart your spiritual engine each day helping you make enormous progress in the spiritual life.
Finally, I cannot recommend more highly certain Catholic devotions and practices such as the rosary, holy hours before the Most Blessed Sacrament, fasting and abstinence on Friday’s (a highly recommended practice throughout the entire year) a day of silent prayer or recollection, (perhaps at the Spiritual Life Center) or better yet, an organized retreat, spiritual reading of the Bible and other Catholic authors, family meals and prayer and a host of other well advised activities to give you the encouragement and support you need to move always forward.
Friends, we have a very short Advent season this year, shorter than most years. It is therefore imperative that we not waste time or remain stuck in our spiritual inertia, but that we do our part to enlist the Holy Spirit, who moved the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost outward and forward. We too have been given this Divine Gift; let us therefore go to meet Him who is returning to meet us, Always Forward! Siempre Adelante! God bless you all!
+Bishop Carl A. Kemme