April 2018, BRCLM Lagniappe

Confession … Good for the Soul

Confession … Good for the Soul

by Rachele Smith

If you’ve ever hurt a loved one or caused a friendship to fail, then you know the emotions that can surface when you ask for forgiveness.

Feelings like pain, sorrow and even the inner conflict between humility and pride are all too common. But the act of forgiveness can wash away those feelings, and when expressed with a contrite heart, it can ultimately help a relationship become whole again. Forgiveness also works the same way in a relationship with God.

As humans, we are imperfect, and when failings occur and our actions, or sometimes, our inability to act, pulls us away from God, asking for forgiveness can make the relationship whole again.

“We never lose our relationship with God. That’s important to understand. But what reconciliation (confession) does is bring you back to that peace (with God),” said Father Charlie Landry, pastor of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Gabriel.

In the Catholic Church, confession or asking for forgiveness is one of the church’s seven sacraments, or outward signs of the faith. It involves privately admitting one’s sins to a priest and then receiving absolution (forgiveness) for those sins.

For non-Catholics, however, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be confusing. Traditionally, it was received in a confessional or behind a screen, but today, Catholics have the option to meet face-to-face with a priest.

Father Landry explained that while confession involves a personal examination of self, the priest’s presence is important because it reflects the ecclesiastical community of the church. “As Christians and as Catholic Christians, the sense of what Jesus left us is that we are a community,” he said, pointing to the Apostle Paul, who said in 1 Corinthians that even though we are different parts, we represent one body of Christ.

And as one body, when one member of the community offends or hurts another, the entire community is affected, Father Landry said. “It’s like a sore on your arm. You know the sore is there, but your whole body feels the pain and is affected by it,” he said, adding that through reconciliation, everyone, or all parts of the body of Christ, can come back to peace and wholeness in the church.

Confessing to a priest also allows spiritual directing and can help bring understanding to what is causing a sin, said Father Landry.

“Have you ever tried to dig up a dandelion? If you don’t get the root, it will come back again and again. But to get that root, you have to dig deep. That’s where spiritual directing can help, so you can find out the cause (of certain behaviors) and how you can make a change,” he said.

Spiritual directing can also guide those penitents who struggle to forgive themselves.

But what if a person isn’t really sorry for hurting someone else? Is a contrite heart needed for confession and ultimately forgiveness? Father Landry said it is necessary, especially in any loving relationship. With true contrition, the bond strengthens, and even though humans may worry about being hurt again, with God’s forgiveness, there is no worry.

“I kind of look at confession as God cleaning the slate,” he said, adding that our free will may at times take us out of our relationship with God, but God is always waiting for us to reconcile. “The beauty of reconciliation is when you sin, you know you can come back and receive the grace of reconciliation and continue living the salvation of Jesus.”

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Healthy Life, September 2016

A Burden Lifted

With 100-Pound Weight Loss, He Gains New Perspective

by Lisa Tramontana
Pedro before (left) and after (right) his dramatic weight loss.
Pedro before (left) and after (right) his dramatic weight loss.

Pedro White is a changed man. Just a year ago, he was 100 pounds heavier, completely out of shape and depressed about his health. Today, he feels great and has a positive outlook on life.

As a young man, White’s weight was normal, but over the years, his lifestyle and eating habits had caused a slow but steady weight gain. When he was brave enough to finally step on the scale, he saw the number 290 staring back at him, and was shocked. He decided it was time to take control of his life before he ended up with a heart attack or stroke.

A delivery driver for SAIA, White’s job kept him on the road all day long, every day. During his breaks, he often sat in his truck and ate fast food and more sweets than he could count. “Fried chicken, fried fish, cookies, cakes, pies … it was doing me in,” he said. “It got harder to get in and out of the truck. I was having trouble climbing stairs. I was out of breath all the time. I hated feeling that way.”

Pedro holds a pair of his old pants showing just how much weight he has lost.
Pedro holds a pair of his old pants showing just how much weight he has lost.

He was also on medication for his cholesterol and blood pressure, and at only 38, hated the idea of it. “I was too young to be on medicine,” he said. “I just decided I was tired of it,” he said.

His solution was simple. He cut all fried foods and all sugar from his diet. It was a sacrifice, he said, but he started seeing results immediately. He first noticed it when his clothes fit more loosely. Then he felt motivated to start working out. Four months into his diet, he started going to the YMCA to exercise on a regular basis. He preferred the elliptical and did 35-minute cardio workouts every day. “It really kept me motivated,” he said.

His diet was a work in progress. As he lost more weight, he became more interested in eating healthy. He educated himself on simple and complex carbohydrates, learned how to decipher food labels, and started substituting healthy alternatives for the foods he enjoyed.

TIPSThese days, a typical dinner is a grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables and brown rice or roasted potatoes. He has grown to like his new diet and has even started experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes.
“I feel so much better now,” he said. “I feel stronger and healthier. I have more energy. And people tell me that I look like a different person. I know I feel 10 years younger.” The medication is also a thing of the past, he added.

White is most proud of the fact that he was able to lose the weight naturally. “I did it on my own without any pills or cleanses or special products,” he said. “I didn’t sign up for some trendy Hollywood diet. I just made up my mind that I was going to do it, and then I started being smart about what I was eating. It really has changed my life.”

He admits there was a significant fear factor in the back of his mind. “Several of my relatives have diabetes,” he said. “One of my cousins actually lost her eyesight at 35 because of diabetes. I saw what it does to people and I didn’t want to go through that.”

White says his new lifestyle is no longer a sacrifice, and he encourages others to get healthy whether that means losing weight, quitting smoking or starting a fitness routine. “The way I look at it now, if it doesn’t benefit me, I’m not going to do it,” he said. “If it can help me be a better person, I’ll give it a try.”