Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
In the Catholic Church we have this beautiful sacrament called Reconciliation. People come to a priest to confess what they have done wrong. I have a suggestion. Why not have something like an eighth sacrament where a person comes and tells the priest all the things they have done right.
Conscience tells us two things — what’s right and what’s wrong. If we confess the times we have done something wrong, why not confess, acknowledge, the times we have done something right. I am sure there are many times when we have followed St Paul’s advice today and showed “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” And if we are doing all this, why not acknowledge it in some way? Give ourselves praise. “Hey, self, you did a lot of good today. Keep up the good work.”
What comes after praising ourselves? For people of faith, gratitude follows. We know the truth of what St. Paul said to the Corinthians, “What have you that you have not received” (1 Corinthians 4:7). In acknowledging our good deeds, we acknowledge the author of all good.
When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth detected Mary’s good qualities. And Elizabeth praised Mary. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). What was Mary’s response? Gratitude. “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit gives thanks to God my savior.” (Luke 1:46) Mary had many talents, abilities, and great depth of soul. And she knew where it all came from. So she gave thanks. We can give ourselves praise, as long as we thank God for it all. “He who is mighty has done great things to me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).
St. Paul tells us today, “Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and inspired songs” (Colossians 3:16). That’s what Mary did. Come on, let’s follow her.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/.