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A Light in Our Wilderness

It happens every November, yet I am always surprised that the days get shorter, the mornings get chillier, the leaves fall until branches are bare, and the gospel readings at Mass turn dark and foreboding as the liturgical year winds down. We also have worries about wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, economic confusion, and a slow recovery from COVID lockdowns which have led to a national crisis of sadness.

When we feel like it's dark and we're lost in the wilderness, (we all do from time to time), our closest relationships can be affected. Our college-aged young adults look to us for emotional, spiritual and temporal reassurance. From where do we draw our light and strength to be their stronghold? In the coming weeks, we will hear John the Baptist cry out from the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord." John 1:23. This camel-hair-wearing, locust-eating prophet of God challenged his listeners to repent to prepare themselves for the Lord's coming. It's an admonition we should take to heart.

When we quiet our minds and conduct a prayerful review of our interactions with our college students, do we find reasons for repentance? Were we impatient? Did we nag? Was it hard to listen to something they were complaining about...again? Did we interrupt them? Lose our temper? Were we stingy with our time? Slow to praise them? Repentance and contrition lead us like GPS straight to the precipice of heaven --the doors (or curtain) of the confessional, where Our Lord through his priest renews and strengthens us to be wise, cheerful, shining examples to our college-aged young adults.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:

- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;

- reconciliation with the Church;

- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;

- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;

- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;

- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

Just imagine--empowered by the grace of a good Confession, we can anticipate the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with a deep "peace and serenity," manifest as a readiness to listen empathically to our college-aged young adults, a desire to sincerely praise their accomplishments, and an ability to firmly resist unsolicited advice or criticism. Our hearts are bound to feel lighter as well! After all, there is no wilderness that can't be transformed by the light of Christ through the grace of the Sacraments.

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