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Fr. Gabriel Mosher, O.P.'s picture

Vacate et Videte

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I've come across a fantastic author. John Senior was a professor at Kansas University. From all accounts, he was a truly inspiring educator. The monuments to his deep commitment to academic integrity are two Bishops, Wyoming Catholic College, and Clear Creek Monastery. He has inspired an entire sector of the Catholic Church in America to greatness; the greatness that only comes from a deep reservoir of love. His fierce commitment to God, the Church, the idea that is America, and all humanity radiates from his well crafted prose. It is as if a certain Catholic journalist from England were to have taken up flesh a second time, and as an American.

I've completed his first work, The Death of Christian Culture, and I've begun it's companion, The Restoration of Christian Culture. But, let me be clear: both works are more serious than even their titles suggest. They are not light fare. These slim books posses a surprising weight. Yet, the pages nearly turns themselves.

Essentially, these books are a clear minded critique of the state of Christian culture, i.e., western civilization. Dr. Senior clearly and accurately diagnoses the ailment with which we all unwittingly suffer. Then, critique concluded, he offers real solutions. He does not provide simple solutions; the complaints themselves are far from simple. Yet, working as a master diagnostician he discovers the illness and proscribes the treatment.

Here is a prime example:

First, negatively, smash the television set. The Catholic Church is not opposed to violence; only unjust violence; so smash the television set. And, positively, put the time and money you now spend on such entertainment into a piano so that music is restored to your home, common, ordinary, Christian music, much of which is very simple to play. Anybody can learn the songs of Steven Foster, Robert Burns, the Irish and Italian airs, after even a few hours of instruction and practice. And families will be together at home of an evening and love will grow again without thinking about it, because they are moving in harmony together. There is nothing more disinteresting of love than artificial attempts to foster it in encounter groups and the like: Love only grows; it cannot be manufactured or forced; and it grows on the sweet sounds of music." (The Restoration of Christian Culture)

Ignore him at your peril. Read him to your delight. Regardless, read him you must.

Br. Justine Gable, O.P.'s picture

Frequent Confession by Dom Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

As we approach the Easter Triduum, I’d like to recommend a wonderful book: Frequent Confession by Dom Benedict Baur, O.S.B. Acknowledging that there are many who need the sacrament of confession to combat serious sin, Abbot Baur’s book is written to encourage even those who do not struggle with mortal sin to make frequent use of the sacrament. Although there are many ways in which venial sins can be forgiven, the author shows that the sacrament is a particularly effective means for overcoming voluntary venial sins and sinful habits. While the confession of venial sins is not obligatory, it provides the penitent with a unique opportunity for self-reflection, spiritual direction, and the reception of sacramental grace. As Abbot Baur puts it, “ . . . The sacrament of Penance cures the soul from the weakness that follows venial sin and from the weariness and coldness toward the things of God and the inclination towards worldliness that venial sin brings . . . and all this by its sacramental power, in other words, by the power of Christ himself.” (pp. 45-46)

Frequent Confession is also a treasure trove of practical advice for those who wish to make more fruitful use of the sacrament. For those who no longer struggle with mortal sin or a great number of venial sins, Abbot Baur recommends the formulation of a specific, practical purpose of amendment. A concrete resolution focusing on overcoming even a single sinful habit and the development of a particular virtue is more helpful for spiritual growth than an entire laundry list of faults: “Therefore our guiding principle here should be: a little, but well done; a little done earnestly and with purpose and perseverance. Divide and conquer!” (p. 58) Abbot Baur also examines a number of key concepts for the spiritual life, showing in each case that the frequent use of confession overcomes difficulties and nourishes our friendship with God.

Above all, frequent use of the sacrament of confession is a constant spur to our spiritual growth. It aids us in keeping an active will and firm intention to seek out the root causes of sin, imbuing our lives with a spirit of penance. The sacrament provides strength to continually struggle for spiritual growth and a more perfect love of God which is manifested in love for our neighbor and contrition for our sins.

Frequent Confession is not only enjoyable spiritual reading, it is a wonderful way to renew your devotion to this great sacrament and rediscover one of the church’s most effective means for spiritual growth.