DEAR FATHER | Different degrees of sin, but all destroy the love in our hearts

This is a question that many people wonder about. We hear of terms such as "mortal sin," "venial sin," "deadly sins" and so on. But what do they mean?

Sin is a "failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1849). It sets us against God's love, for it declares that the love I have for myself or another person or thing is greater than the love I have for God.

POPE’S MESSAGE | At Mass, God accepts humble gifts, gives abundantly in return

Pope Francis blessed a man at his general audience Feb. 28 in Paul VI hall at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY — God asks so little of people and yet, He gives so much in return, Pope Francis said.

"He asks for our goodwill in daily life, He asks us for an open heart, He asks us to be willing to be better," the pope said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican Feb. 28.

DEAR FATHER | Act of Contrition gets to the heart of confession

Is confession valid if the priest doesn't hear your Act of Contrition? 

We might remember being told as we grew up that we need to apologize to someone for something we did. Out of personal pride or perhaps anger at what they did to us, our apology was halfhearted at best. We said we were sorry, but in our heart we really weren't, and the way we said our apology most likely reflected our state of mind and heart.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Time to make humble confession and experience God’s love

We begin the First Sunday of Lent with the story of the creation and fall of man. We are told that man was created out of clay, and then God "blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being."

I am reminded of the story of the little boy who crawled out from under his parents' bed and asked his mother, "Mom, is it true that we were created out of dust and that we will return to dust?" and his mother said, "Yes, that is true." The boy replied, "Then under your bed there must be somebody either going or coming!"

DEAR FATHER | Confession should drain the wound caused by sin

Growing up, I remember Mother Angelica on EWTN commenting to callers who had been away from the sacrament of reconciliation or were afraid to go that they would feel so good afterward, that they should go out and buy a pizza. Such a comment came from a heart that had approached the sacrament and found peace in the deep mercy of God.

During Lent, pope offers handy tips for preparing for confession

VATICAN CITY -- As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession -- "because we are all sinners" -- the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to "confess well."

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