An issue that often surfaces when people come to Confession is guilt… specifically about feeling guilty. I find some people have actually cultivated a habit of feeling guilty whether or not what they’ve done merits it! Some just don’t feel right if they are not feeling guilty! Some think feeling guilty is a sign of their desire to grow spiritually as if chronic worrying is a manifestation of maturity! Over the years I have found that a sense of guilt which doesn’t produce a repentance manifested by different living and interacting with others is simply useless! Perhaps even pathological!
Our culture tells us it’s our feelings that matter and decisions should be made according to what we feel. This makes no sense to me! I can wake up one morning with a migraine which puts me in a ferocious mood and if I make decisions that day according to how I am feeling I can guarantee you I’ll regret them the next day! Too much sleep, too little sleep, too little food, drugs, hormones… all of these result in feelings! Our decision-making needs to include the realization that feelings come and go! They may not be the most accurate reflection of either what we believe, of what we want or of what we should do!
All of which leads to two important questions, “What DO you believe? In your deepest heart what do you most want?” Coming to know these things requires some introspection. I find that awareness grows out of my daily practice of reflection no matter what I am feeling at the time. Given the whirlwind pace of modern life I find it necessary to begin the day with a period of quiet reflection. It can begin with a formal prayer (on some days it does) and on other days I sit down with my mug of coffee, become still and the reflectiveness seems to come forth on its own! We need to sit and be present to the quiet in which the Divine awaits in order to hear what is being said… about the day, about your life, about you!
When you have a firmly established practice of reflecting at the start of the day you begin to find reflectiveness crops up throughout the day on its own! It causes us to be more aware as we proceed through the day no matter what we are feeling. The way we grow spiritually is by becoming more aware of ourselves, our feelings, motives and how we are in our relationships with others. A fruitful question to ask ourselves at the beginning of each day is, “How aware am I right now?”