Cleaning Our Hearts

Catholicism: What We Do, pt. 5

At the beginning of Mass we gather ourselves together. The entrance music starts and the procession begins. Anticipation fills the air as we spend the next 45 minutes in prayer, praise and contemplation. In order to properly begin our celebration, we are asked to pause for a few minutes and recall our actions from the past days. At this point, I explain to the children that we clean our hearts before we begin. The “Penitential Act” is an expression of repentance as we prepare ourselves to meet Jesus in the Eucharist. Often we skip the Penitential Act and go straight to the “Lord, Have Mercy” (or Kyrie).

Catholic Guilt?

Personally, I grew up thinking that reciting this confession of sins in the Penitential Act was too catholic. It brought up the critical image of how Catholics are filled with what has been called “Catholic guilt”. I don’t know where this term “Catholic guilt” comes from. Perhaps it is a product of the culture I grew up in. It sounds so negative, like something we shouldn’t be proud of. What is wrong with feeling guilt anyway?

Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Guilt is described as an emotion a person feels when they have done something wrong whether it’s through actions or thoughts. As Catholics we are taught to admit our faults and confess our wrongdoings, our sins. The Season of Advent starts on Sunday, December 2. At the same time the Church will begin a new liturgical year. In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, (Luke 21:25-28,34-35), Jesus talks to his disciples about the signs to come and he tells them to be vigilant at all times.


The Season of Advent is about waiting for the coming of Jesus. During our time of waiting we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for the saviour. What better way is there to prepare ourselves for his coming than to recall our actions and confess to our brothers and sisters?