Repentance: Getting Your Priorities Straight

Recently, when attending Divine Liturgy, the priest’s sermon was about the topic of repentance. He started off by acknowledging that most people don’t like the word repentance.

He explained that the word “repentance” can lead people to thoughts like:

  • Boring
  • No fun
  • Restriction

But what I found most interesting about the sermon was when the priest said the following:

“Repentance means simply this: Getting your priorities straight.”

And you know what, he’s right! It was definitely a “nail-on-the-head” moment.

I think sometimes in life we often tend to forget about some very important things: Our faith. Our values. Virtue…God.

By this I’m not implying that we’re all terrible people, committing terrible acts. Although, yes, that can happen – what I’m referring to is the easy ability to slip off course a bit. Perhaps letting the world in more than it should be. Thus allowing God into our hearts less.

Spiritual tepidity. A half-hearted service to God.

And when this happens, as it does with most of us when we lose site of our priorities, just as Father said in his sermon – it’s time to reset our priorities through an honest examination of conscience, repentance, and finally – course-correction.

When we start to grow lukewarm in the service of God, it’s a dangerous place to be. It usually starts with praying less, thinking about God less, thinking about others less, and thinking about ourselves more than is needed. This often happens without us even being fully aware of it, as we start to search for happiness and consolation from the worldly things around us. We may start to lie to ourselves.

This is when our thoughts and desires become too influenced by time-consuming interests, selfish ambitions, and the wrong standards of worldly people.

And even when looking at each thing objectively, it may not appear negative, or wrong, but collectively in essence, it can develop into a disease that can bring spiritual death if we don’t quickly fight against it.

Getting your priorities straight.

Because if we don’t, we risk contracting the germs of laziness and worldliness that will grow into a deadly disease that if left unexamined can eventually rob the soul of its life.

And in the end, Death will take all of the world’s things from us, and nothing will matter except for our love for God and the state of our soul.

Sound dramatic? Perhaps. But wake-up calls usually are.

Through true repentance (getting our priorities straight), we acknowledge and feel genuine sorrow for where we’re slipping in our daily life and behaviors. And this then provides us with the opportunity to course-correct, so we can then pay closer attention to our true purpose in life: keeping our heart and mind always on Jesus Christ, our Savior.

And depending on how far we’ve slipped, it probably won’t be an immediate course-correction. And that’s ok. But as our loyalty and faithfulness in serving our Lord improves each day, so will we.

It’s so easy to become half-hearted and inattentive to our spiritual life living in the world in which we do. Everyday we’re assaulted with negativity, worldliness and superficiality (and worse) – and at a level that has never been heard of before in history.

I always think that from a bird’s-eye-view of our current reality, we must seem like crazy folk. But I also don’t believe that’s who we really are or have to be.

Sure, there are some people in serious need of help, and we should do our best to provide it for them through our support and prayer. But for the most part, I think people are inherently good.

We just need to take a step back sometimes – examine, repent and get our priorities straight.

And by the way, prayer is a necessary help to get there. Pray about everything. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:16-18.)

St. Ignatius says that we must pray as though the matter we desire depended entirely upon God, and we must work as though it depended entirely upon ourselves.

Each hour of the day is an important part of our lives. Whether we’re at work, at home, at play, or rest, we can either spend this time in the company of God, trying our best to serve him well …

Or we can live life only for ourselves.

Examine. Repent and get your priorities straight.

Both you and Our Lord will be glad you did.

image: By Angela Marie from NRW/Germany (Confessional) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

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