Appeal to God for a Clear Conscience
Catechesis At Home – Appeal to God for a Clear Conscience
First Sunday of Lent – Year B
“What have you given up for Lent?”
This question is so common we almost feel the need to have an answer as soon as we wake up on Ash Wednesday. The right answer, in whatever way you might say it, is:
“None of your business.”
The prudent and conscientious Catholic won’t ask the question in the first place. As St. Maximos the Confessor puts it:
He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins.
When we consider what we are “giving up” for Lent, let’s be more focused on asking God what He wants us to give up. What does he want us to repent of? To repent means to change, to turn away from. What do we need to change?
This Sunday, St. Peter tells us that our Baptism is an appeal to God for a clear conscience. But how can we have a clear conscience if we do not ask God to help us know what a clear conscience is and help us to create it?
What we give up for Lent is our business and the business of God. He alone knows what we need to repent of, and that change comes from what we give up or do, both of which are changes, both of which are repentance. But these are not efficacious (a fancy Catholic word for “effective”) unless they are permanent changes. They have to last beyond Lent, and make us a different, changed – repentant – person.
Will giving up chocolate do that? Probably not. Will giving up social media do that? Probably so – but only if it is a permanent change.
Repent. Turn away from. Change. Forever. Therein lay the path to the clear conscience our Baptism appeals to God for.
Talk together about what changes the family needs to make to have clear consciences. Do we need to pray together? Do the dishes together? Watch less video? How does our conscience feel when we ignore one another for the pleasures of social media or other distractions? Discuss these as individual sacrifices as well…for one it might be fasting from social media, for another it might be refraining from complaining about chores or things “not being fair”.
Parents, when you explain this activity make sure to emphasize this is not a time to point fingers or be mean. It is a time to lovingly help each other see where we might make more room for God in our lives.
Everyone should have enough slips of paper for the number of family members. On one side of the paper, write the name of a family member. Each piece of paper should have a different name on it, one piece for each member of the family. On the other side of the paper, write a change you think that family member should consider doing during Lent. When everyone is done, these should be given to each person to reflect upon, considering that God talks to us through others, and often our family knows the things we need to change most. Consider seriously taking these on as Lenten repentance, to help form the habits that create a clear conscience beyond Lent and for the rest of our lives. And remember that young children are not required to participate in these Lenten practices but it is good to help them form the habit. No one should feel shamed into a Lenten practice. Again, it is really nobody’s business what one does or does not “give up” for Lent. If children do want a way to keep track of their Lenten promises, we have some ways to do that in our Lenten Resources page.
Isn’t Lent worth more than a box of chocolates?
Other Help on HOO
In this episode of On the Road to Perfection, Mama and Daddy talk about Peace. What is Peace? When do we have Peace? Who grants us Peace? Mama and Daddy tell us all about this important Fruit of the Spirit, and how it leads us all to a, not only peaceful, but more faithful and joyful life!