On a Mission

It’s Lent! Do you know where your imperfections are?

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Once upon a time (which was about three days ago), when the Lord told me to work on getting rid of my imperfections for Lent, I couldn’t come up with a single one (not a good sign). “Lord,” I prayed, “I’m drawing a blank.”

Okay, so I wasn’t entirely sure what He meant by imperfection. Isn’t it just the failure to do something as well as I could have, like emptying the cat litter without complaining? Finally, I prayed, “Lord, could I have a few more details on this assignment? Like, what exactly are you talking about?”

Four minutes later (okay maybe it was five), I felt inspired to dig up a copy of the Examination of Conscience by Fr. Robert Altier. Sure enough, there was a whole section entitled Venial Sins and Imperfections which explained: “Imperfections are not sins so they do not need to be confessed. No distinction is made on this sheet between venial sins and imperfections because it is not always easy to make the distinction. Some things are imperfections because they are very small, other things are imperfections because they are dispositions of the soul and not willful actions or failures, still others because they are habitual.”

This explanation was followed by a list of examples that was FOUR pages long – and I was guilty of at least one out of every five.

BOOM. (Why am I always so spectacularly wrong about myself?)

The list included actions such as: speaking badly about the Church, criticizing people in your thoughts, taking loved ones for granted, meddling in other people’s affairs, doing unnecessary work on Sunday, impatience, being habitually late, using the “silent treatment” on others, driving carelessly, failure to pay debts promptly.

It took only a minute for me to suddenly come up with a long list of my own, such as: making snarky comments under my breath; throwing things at the television when liberal pundits are talking; gabbing with friends after mass when people are trying to pray; making jokes out of everything including serious matters (like this one).

For a moment, I was tempted to ask, “Lord, are there other options available, like giving up chocolate?”

It’s going to be a long 40 days.

Oh well. We’re all in this together, right? If you dare to make the same self-discoveries, why not join me in a study of St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. This study, entitled Live Like a Catholic, will lead you through the seven mansions of the soul where you’ll discover all kinds of pesky little things about yourself such as your attachments to sin, your predominant fault, all the clever ways pride disguises itself as virtue. It’s a journey that will leave you changed forever – for the better!

And yes, I do crack jokes throughout the course.

Classes are held online on Thursday evenings from 8-9 PM EST beginning March 5 through April 23. Recordings of all classes are sent to all participants so missed sessions aren’t a problem. Click here to register.

© Susan Brinkmann. All Rights Reserved, Catholic Life Institute

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