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The Sin Box: Why have Catholics stopped lining up at the confessional?
Slate ^ | Nov. 17, 2005 | Andrew Santella

Posted on 11/19/2005 12:52:27 PM PST by Antioch

A Catholic friend of mine recently went to confession at her parish church for the first time in years. She had personal reasons for wanting to seek absolution, but there was this, too: She said she'd long felt a little sorry for the priests sitting alone in their confessional boxes, waiting for sinners to arrive.

A generation ago, you'd see a lot of us lined up inside Catholic churches on Saturday afternoons, waiting to take our turn in one of the confessionals. We'd recite the familiar phrases ("Bless me Father, for I have sinned"), list our transgressions and the number of times we'd committed them, maybe endure a priestly lecture, and emerge to recite a few Hail Marys as an act of penance. In some parishes, the machinery of forgiveness was so well-oiled you could see the line move. Confession was essential to Catholic faith and a badge of Catholic identity. It also carried with it the promise of personal renewal. Yet in most parishes, the lines for the confessionals have pretty much disappeared. Confession—or the sacrament of reconciliation, as it's officially known—has become the one sacrament casual Catholics feel free to skip. We'll get married in church, we'll be buried from church, and we'll take Communion at Mass. But regularly confessing one's sins to God and the parish priest seems to be a part of fewer and fewer Catholic lives. Where have all the sinners gone?

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: confession; reconciliation
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Santilla writes some interesting observations here about the phenomena of the empty confesional.
1 posted on 11/19/2005 12:52:29 PM PST by Antioch
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To: Antioch

People don't have to line up for this.

They can confess their sins to Jesus anytime, anywhere and any place. That is what they should have been doing in the first place.


2 posted on 11/19/2005 12:54:23 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people believe in Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: All

The question wasn't, "How do you believe you should confess your sins," but rather, "How come so many Catholics aren't following the teaching of their church on confession?"

The answer has to do with a combination of bad teaching, bad training, and lack of committment. And not wanting to confess things they know are wrong but they don't want to not do. And it is made worse by the fact that a lot of priests give the impression that confession is not important, and even make it hard for their parishioners to find them at confession time.

Serious catholics know that confession is a channel of grace that helps them grow closer to God and heals their souls, so they tend to go to confession monthly if not more often. And at churches where the pastor encourages confession, the rates people go, go up. And those churches tend to thrive and grow.


3 posted on 11/19/2005 1:00:51 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: nmh

Only if you're a protestant, nmh. Caholics still have the confessional, if they choose to use it.


4 posted on 11/19/2005 1:02:32 PM PST by Ken522
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To: Ken522
CATHOLICS, not the other way .. sorry about the spelling ...
5 posted on 11/19/2005 1:04:09 PM PST by Ken522
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To: Antioch

People forget that Confession or as it is now called Reconcilation is a sacrament. We forget that as such it is a true instrument of grace. Confession times should be available more than just on Sat afternoons. I need to go to confession but lack transporation today. I pray I can reach the priest sometime this week for a private session.


6 posted on 11/19/2005 1:10:13 PM PST by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: nmh
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

It's good to have a small group of Christian friends to confess sins to. Remember, people were confessing their sins before they were being baptized by John the Baptist.
7 posted on 11/19/2005 1:20:04 PM PST by bahblahbah
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To: Ken522

Ever read your Bible? The Bible says you don't need to confess your sins to a priest for absolution.


8 posted on 11/19/2005 1:31:07 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: All
Thread hijack in progress!!!! Zot!
9 posted on 11/19/2005 1:37:37 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: nmh

It's interesting when you have to tell someone about that masturbation, that adultery, that hateful thought, those thefts of pens and office supplies, watching that movie that aroused you, those nasty remarks you made behind someone's back, the irritation and anger at the spouse,not returning the change you were given because the clerk made a mistake, the rage and anger because someone cut you off or passed you on the road, calling into work sick when you aren't, or any number of spiteful demeaning actions that have nothing to do with Christ...because when you say it out loud and acknowledge your sin, you do not want to do it again...

Confess ye your sins to one another....James 5:16

When you state the sin aloud to another person, it is very different.

Problem today is that people do not realize that there are lots of things that don't rise to the occasion of mortal sin, but are demeaning nasty little venial things we do every day that impede our Christian walk.

It goes back to early teaching and what isn't being taught!

After all, it is all about ME in this society, isn't it?


10 posted on 11/19/2005 1:42:53 PM PST by OpusatFR (What's so threatening about my faith that you have to kill people for believing it? That it's true?)
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To: marajade

btw, this thread is about why Catholics don't avail themselves of the Sacrament of Confession more.

It isn't about your belief, but then again it IS all about ME, isn't it?


11 posted on 11/19/2005 1:44:34 PM PST by OpusatFR (What's so threatening about my faith that you have to kill people for believing it? That it's true?)
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To: Antioch

I suspect it's a growing case of 'Religion Lite' - Great Feeling, Less Effort.


12 posted on 11/19/2005 2:17:55 PM PST by polymuser (I wish the Republicans had a majority in Congress.)
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To: lastchance

There definitely is room for improvement on making Confession more easily available. However this requires extra commitment on the part of many parish priests, and some don't want to do that, sadly. What really drives me up the wall are the parishes that offer Confession "by appointment" only. That's about the worst thing you can do to encourage more people to use the sacrament. Even those who go to Confession regularly rarely get excited and eager to go. It's never fun - nor is it supposed to be. Having a time period, even if it's just an hour every week, where you can go, confess, and continue on makes it a little easier. Many people who barely can drag themselves to "the box" would never get around to calling a priest and setting up an appointment. Not to mention the fact that much of the comforting anonymity of the confessional is lost that way. It's a very intimidating set up.


13 posted on 11/19/2005 2:45:30 PM PST by sassbox (GO IRISH!!!)
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To: marajade
Thanks for playing "I'm ignorant of Scripture, Catholicism and the History of Christendom."

Johnny, tell our loser what parting gifts he/she/it has won.

14 posted on 11/19/2005 2:51:40 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: NYer

Ping! for your Catholic News list.

Slate isn't always the best, but this commentary isn't bad.


15 posted on 11/19/2005 3:14:02 PM PST by tlRCta (St. Joseph, pray for us!)
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To: nmh
They can confess their sins to Jesus anytime, anywhere and any place. That is what they should have been doing in the first place.

This sort of prideful Protestant thinking is what has infected our Catholicism. When you get to decide, when, where, and how to confess, and just as likely, what exactly is a sin, confession becomes as easy as rappin' with one's personal butler Jeebus.
16 posted on 11/19/2005 3:56:24 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: marajade
Ever read your Bible? The Bible says you don't need to confess your sins to a priest for absolution.

I remember Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to His apostles. The idea of confessing one's sins to another does not necessarily include absolution from sin.
17 posted on 11/19/2005 3:58:12 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: Conservative til I die

Gal 5:19


18 posted on 11/19/2005 5:06:45 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: Antioch
The biggest barrier between Catholics and the confessional, however, may be the real effort it requires. ... But done right, Catholic confession demands a rigorous examination of conscience and real contrition, to say nothing of the prayers you may be assigned for penance and the thinking a priest may ask you to do about the ways you've let yourself and God down.

Yeah, it takes some effort. And some honesty. And a touch of humility. It might seem like an effort beforehand, but I've walked out with a smile on my face more than once.

Most practicing Catholics also do a daily examination of conscience, yes? And we do confess to and request forgiveness directly from Jesus, just like our good Protestant friends. Don't we? We're always praying to Him and our sins are a normal thing to talk to Him about.

And every week we stand up and say "I confess to Almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters...." and with some preparation and sincere contrition that and the Eucharist take care of our minor transgressions. I do believe some Protestants think that we think we are limited only to the sacrament of Confession. We do everything they do, don't we? However, there is ... even more available for our benefit.

I think one thing that hardly ever gets discussed is that there is more to Reconciliation than the absolution of your sins. There's also the benefit of actually being stregnthened to avoid sin in the future. And being reconciled to the Church. If St. Paul is on target, we each share the good done by the members of the Body but the entire Body is also wounded by my sins.

19 posted on 11/19/2005 5:11:56 PM PST by siunevada
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To: marajade
Gal 5:19

Forgive me, but I'm not finding anything in Gal 5:19 that talks about confession.
20 posted on 11/19/2005 5:31:49 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: Antioch
I've found some Protestants here and elsewhere use James 5:16 to prove that you do not need to confess your sins to a priest for absolution.

James 5:16 states "Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

This verse says nothing about forgiveness for sins, just that is good to be open about our faults to our brothers and that their prayers can help us.
21 posted on 11/19/2005 5:34:53 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: siunevada
Yeah, it takes some effort. And some honesty. And a touch of humility. It might seem like an effort beforehand, but I've walked out with a smile on my face more than once.

...There's also the benefit of actually being stregnthened to avoid sin in the future.


Exactly. This is one of the things that can not be stressed enough. Since this is the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we avail ourselves of it we are given additional grace to avoid sin in the future. I remember when I confessed to the priest that I was so disgusted with fighting and loosing to the same sins week after week, he said that I would be in far worse shape without the grace given to me each time I came to confession.

One of the other true benefits of confession is having someone who can give you practical advise. The priest is trained to deal with penitents, and can help with your sins from the mental judmentalism about your coworkers to the problem that the kid's babysitter is who you want to be sleeping with.
22 posted on 11/19/2005 5:34:58 PM PST by Talking_Mouse (Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just... Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum; NYer; Salvation
The soul's need for confession is written into our Nature by our Divine Creator. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was instituted by Jesus Christ, Himself. Sinning against God is also an offense against mankind as a whole and weakens the communities standing with God and Heaven.

The abandonment of this very basic element of the Sacramental Apostolic Catholic Faith means that more people have wasted money on psychological prostitution, essentially paying for a professional friend to administer advice (and worse, addictive drugs) that only treats physical symptoms and sometimes mere phantom pains that are completely spiritual in origin. Granted, some problems are truly physical or psychological in nature and for this, the medical field should heal. But how many of our festering problems could have been resolved by God's Divine Mercy should we have let Jesus, present in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, heal our spiritual wounds?
23 posted on 11/19/2005 5:52:55 PM PST by SaltyJoe (A mother's sorrowful heart and personal sacrifice redeems her lost child's soul.)
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To: marajade

Ever read your Catechism of the Catholic Church?


24 posted on 11/19/2005 5:54:20 PM PST by Petronski (Cyborg is the greatest blessing I have ever known.)
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To: Conservative til I die; Salvation; Coleus; NYer; SoothingDave; cyborg; onyx; fortunecookie; ...
When you get to decide, when, where, and how to confess, and just as likely, what exactly is a sin, confession becomes as easy as rappin' with one's personal butler Jeebus.

Catholicism Quote of the Week!

LOL

25 posted on 11/19/2005 5:56:21 PM PST by Petronski (Cyborg is the greatest blessing I have ever known.)
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To: Antioch
Personally, I feel the urge to go to Confession when my conscience accuses me of sin. And that's often. Therefore, the fact that confession lines are dwindling indicates to me that there is no longer a sense of personal sin. That in turn is due to the near absence of preaching on the subject in many places.

The issue of personal sanctity and aviodance of sin is seldom mentioned and the "social gospel" is emphasized instead. In addition to the absence of preaching on personal sin, the consequences of dying in that state (i.e. eternal damnation) are likewise rarely broached.

Far too pre-Vatican II, don't you know. We're much more enlightened, nowadays!!

26 posted on 11/19/2005 6:11:32 PM PST by marshmallow
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To: nmh

I have found the sacrament of confession a tremendous channel of divine grace. As a protestant, I found that one doesn't have any sort of finality for our sins, and I'm not sure one took them so seriously if there was no formal taking of responsibility and asking for forgiveness that comes from telling another person. The sacrament shows so much more seriousness. In the early Church, sinners had to stand outside the church! When we sin, we not only harm God and ourselves, but all our brothers and sisters in Christ, so it is appropriate to confess to God through the person of a minister of God and the Church.


27 posted on 11/19/2005 6:11:39 PM PST by Unam Sanctam
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To: Petronski

No... why?


28 posted on 11/19/2005 6:31:31 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: Conservative til I die

whatever.


29 posted on 11/19/2005 6:31:59 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: marajade

It will teach you about what we Catholics believe. It's all carefully sourced.


30 posted on 11/19/2005 6:35:27 PM PST by Petronski (Cyborg is the greatest blessing I have ever known.)
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To: marajade
whatever.

No need to be stand-offish. Honestly, I'm not seeing what Gal 5:19 is saying about confession. Here's what it says:

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,
31 posted on 11/19/2005 6:35:49 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: Conservative til I die

sorry wrong book... james 5:16


32 posted on 11/19/2005 6:38:48 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: Conservative til I die

Hebrews 7


33 posted on 11/19/2005 6:50:57 PM PST by sabe@q.com (Yes, I'm a SW freak!)
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To: Antioch; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; livius; goldenstategirl; ...

Please help explain the Faith to those who do not understand it.


34 posted on 11/19/2005 7:38:02 PM PST by narses (St Thomas says “lex injusta non obligat”)
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To: Antioch

Why have they stopped going? Perhaps it has something to do with the failure of the RC church to address the hundreds of pedophiles to whom people are confessing their sins.

Just a guess


35 posted on 11/19/2005 7:42:49 PM PST by Fzob (Why does this tag line keep showing up?)
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To: Antioch

I went today. There were about 10 of us in line, maybe more. I got there late.


36 posted on 11/19/2005 7:47:31 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Fzob
Why have they stopped going? Perhaps it has something to do with the failure of the RC church to address the hundreds of pedophiles to whom people are confessing their sins. Just a guess

Add to the fact that the Church has been inundated with so many of the "touchy feely" liberal priests who preach all about God's relentless love, but leave out accountability for sin completely in their homilies.

With many liberal priests homilies, its as if sin and evil don't exist.

37 posted on 11/19/2005 7:49:59 PM PST by kstewskis ("Thank you ladies and gentlemen, you've been a wonderful audience" ...Rocky Rhodes)
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To: Fzob

4 percent of the priests have been guilty of this type of misconduct, most done during the 60s and 70s.

96 percent of the priests have not ever done anything scandalously wrong.

96 per cent of the men do their job, and yet people who say things like this seem to want to throw away the 96 percent and act like the whole church is manned only by the 4 percent.

What an unbalanced, uncharitable worldview.


38 posted on 11/19/2005 7:50:07 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: kstewskis

That is a lot of the problem, I suspect. Bad teaching. Theological dissent.


39 posted on 11/19/2005 7:54:46 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Fzob
Why have they stopped going? Perhaps it has something to do with the failure of the RC church to address the hundreds of pedophiles to whom people are confessing their sins.

Just a guess
Guess again.
40 posted on 11/19/2005 8:26:02 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: marajade

See my Post #21.


41 posted on 11/19/2005 8:27:02 PM PST by Conservative til I die
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To: Antioch

Our priest has lines, but I think they could be much longer.


42 posted on 11/19/2005 8:28:41 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nmh
God forgives our sins THROUGH the priest. Have you ever read the words of absolution?
43 posted on 11/19/2005 8:29:34 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: marajade

As I just said, it is GOD who forgives the sins of the sinner through the words of absolution spoken by the priest. Have you ever read those words of absolution? If not, then how can you speak about them in such a way?


44 posted on 11/19/2005 8:31:28 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: polymuser

The graces received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation are many, you have that right.


45 posted on 11/19/2005 8:33:07 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: tlRCta; nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; Pyro7480; livius; ..
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

46 posted on 11/19/2005 8:34:59 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Petronski; marajade
 
enter the Table of Contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church here
1449 The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He effects the reconciliation of sinners through the Passover of his Son and the gift of his Spirit, through the prayer and ministry of the Church:
God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


47 posted on 11/19/2005 8:38:26 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: A.A. Cunningham; marajade
I wouldn't say Mara was ignorant, just that "confession" as practiced by the church of Rome, is an invention that was created to satisfy the christian requirement of testimonial. The BIBLE and early christian tradition teach that one must publicly testify their sins to fellow believers, NOT to some guy who Rome designates as a cleric, although the latter is sufficient.

Why are Catholics so defensive? I can show you pre-Vatican II tracts that defend the concept of "Limbo" as steadfastly as you folks are defending certain practices INVENTED by the church of Rome. It was such intolerance and blind faithfulness to practices not mentioned in the scriptures or practiced by the Church pre-Nicea that drove me away from the RC Church.

48 posted on 11/19/2005 8:50:53 PM PST by Clemenza (Ticking Away the Moments that Make up the Dog Day)
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To: Salvation; NYer

No offense to my friends on this site, but the bible and pre-Nicean Christian tradition required a TESTIMONIAL of sins. It says NOTHING about getting absolution from God through a cleric. From my understanding of scripture and pre-Nicean traditions, such confessions can be made by giving testimony in the community of believers, which could include a priest or a church/prayer group or any such gathering of believing Christians.


49 posted on 11/19/2005 8:53:23 PM PST by Clemenza (Ticking Away the Moments that Make up the Dog Day)
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To: Salvation

I've gone into the sacrament many times with a heavy heart and left with peace. The result of confession and absolution of my sins is love and gratitude toward God for His salvation through Christ's death and resurrection. I'm reminded that He calls me to be His own, that He yearns to bring us closer in friendship and grace.


50 posted on 11/19/2005 9:07:02 PM PST by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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