Ellen Mongan discusses ways to grow in the blessed assurance of what Jesus has done for us.
Lent is the perfect time to examine your life, to stop, look, and listen to what God has been saying to you, but you were too busy to hear. You may be surprised by what you discover.
Deacon Pat and I chose to go away on a week-long getaway to the beach to discern God’s direction for our lives individually and as a couple. Our hope for Lent was to recommit our lives to Christ in a new, more profound way and rekindle our love for each other. While on retreat, we took life at a little slower pace, which gave us some incredible God appointments. It is amazing, when you take a pause from the everyday routine of life, how clearly you can hear God speaking to you.
The still, small voice of God draws you closer in prayer. God has a way of opening the door of our hearts a little wider on retreats. Our ears become more attuned to hearing a little better, and we listen a little longer and go a little deeper into the quietness of our souls with God. If we never go deep, we never come to the realization of how much we need a savior. As the Holy Spirit tenderly reveals how we have sinned and the changes needed in our lives, our heart cries out, “I need a savior.”
Our heart is given the assurance of God’s love: though our sins are many, Christ’s love is greater than all our sins. We grow more and more in appreciation of what Jesus' death on the Cross cost Him. We are refreshed and renewed in strength and ready to return to our everyday life.
There are other ways, besides retreats, to grow in the blessed assurance of what Jesus has done for us. One way is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Pat and I moved to Macon, Georgia, and attended St. Joseph’s Church in my early days of being a deacon's wife. We left behind life as we knew it. I, the never-met-a-stranger gal, was lonely and devastated.
One day I decided to go to daily Mass at a parish other than St. Joseph. After weeping through the entire Mass, I knew I had to go to Confession. Determined to get right with God, I begged the priest, after Mass, to hear my confession. The priest looked down at his watch and said, “I am so sorry; I have an appointment.”
I was crushed as my spirit sank even lower. Tears welled up in my eyes as I pleaded, “Please, I need to go to Confession.“ Never have I needed my Savior more than at that moment. God heard the cry of my heart, and the priest said with compassion, “I will meet you in the confessional in five minutes.” I raced towards the confessional door and waited patiently for Father to arrive.
This sacrament has brought healing to my soul many a time. However, this particular time was a turning point in my life. I understood the teaching of in persona Christi as Father spoke to me from the heart of God. God’s mercy and grace was poured out upon me, and I began to understand the importance of this sacrament. Why we have to confess our sins to a priest has never been a question in my mind. This time, the truth of our need for the sacrament was evidenced by the grace and peace I experienced in my soul. The words Father spoke to me entered my heart and still reside. He said, "Either God will take your cross away, or He will give you the grace to bear it." God was faithful to those words and continues to bring them to mind when I face new challenges and try to overcome sin. Now, when I need a touch from God, I know where to run.
I am so thankful for Father who stopped to hear a heartbroken penitent’s confession. I do not know if he made it to that appointment that day. I am assured that God used him to speak words of truth to me that healed my soul. Thank you to all those faithful priests who take the time to be there! The grace in the sacrament of reconciliation changes lives.
Do you need a touch from God today? Run to confession! God sees that your heart is broken, and He is near the brokenhearted. Close your eyes and listen to the words spoken through the priest in persona Christi and let them wash over you and make you whole.
What a gift retreats and the sacraments are to me, especially reconciliation. Do you need that blessed assurance? God is waiting on you to come to Him!
Copyright 2022 Ellen Mongan
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About the Author
Ellen Mongan hosts three podcasts: Wow Mom, Deacon & Dear, and Go Tell the World, found on YouTube or EllenMongan.com. Her books, “Wow Mom: A Walk with God,” “4 For the Mountaintop,” and “Who Will Wear the Crown” found on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Married 50 years to Deacon Patrick Mongan, M.D. Mother to 8, and Nana to 15.