Repent

Friends in Christ, Lent begins today.
The holy Gospel calls us to repent, do penance, and turn away from our sins. We all must do it, and we all have plenty of sins to atone for.
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St. Catherine of Genoa had once lived a rather worldly life; but at age 27 she had a conversion, and resolved to change her ways. As she was preparing for Confession, God gave her a vision of her own wretchedness and faults. Seeing the truth of herself, she fell to the ground and cried out: ‘No more sins! No more sins!’
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Friends, we can’t hold onto even a little bit of our sin, we can’t have both God and evil in us. Lent is the time to kill the evil in us. We must kill our sins to please God, to find peace, and above all, to avoid hell.
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I was on a priest-retreat recently, and you know, every good retreat includes a meditation on hell; St. Josemaria says, at least once a day we should consider the real possibility of hell for ourselves. It keeps us sane, it reminds us of what is at stake, because in the end, if we would turn away from the path of Christ, we will be separated from God forever.
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St. Teresa of Avila was one day given by God a brief experience of hell. She says, I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience she says, took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it.
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She saw a place of horrors. A foul stench – dirty – and she was placed into a small hole, crammed in. ‘I experienced an interior fire that I don’t know how I could describe,’ she said. There was a suffocating unhappiness, but the worst was that interior fire and despair.
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Friends, we must avoid hell at all costs; to end there would be the final disaster of our life, but it is always a real possibility. Lent is a time for us to kill our sins, and turn back to Jesus Christ. It is the time to choose again the path of heaven instead of hell.
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St. Bernard says, sometimes we think we have cut down the evils in our life, but they will always bud new shoots;[i] ‘Remember, he says, you have within yourself an enemy whom you may overcome, but whom you cannot exterminate.’
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So, we begin this penitential season;
Holy Mother Church loves and guards her children so much, that she insists that we all go to Confession once a year, it is required. It’s for salvation. And Mother Church gives us Lent as a time to repent, confess, and begin again.

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[i] Mirror of Priests, p. 13.

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