Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quick Bytes #53: An Easter "What If"

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What if the stone was still there?

What if the Body was still in the tomb?

What if the Apostles were left to wander aimlessly
after the death of Jesus?

What if our future was empty - with no hope of Salvation -
with nothing but darkness after we died?

THANK YOU LORD, FOR YOUR GIFT.

A very Blessed Easter to you and your families.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Quick Bytes #52: Pain

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Flogging:  "Iron balls caused deep bruising ... leather thongs would cut into the skin ... Blood loss was considerable and the pain would probably put the victim in a state of shock."

Carrying:  "The victim would carry their own cross bar ... weighing in at 75-125 pounds ... if the victim fell ... they would likely fall face first into the ground."

Crucifixion:  "The nails through the feet ... would (cause) excruciating pain through the legs.  The nails in the wrists ... would cause intense pain in the arms.  The wounds on the victim's back would push up against the rough centerpiece ... leading to more pain."

For us.

(information from Catholiceducation.org)
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quick Bytes #51: An Invitation

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"For He knew who would betray him"
                         - Jn 13:11


If a man planned to kill you,
would you talk to him?

I wouldn't.  I'd go out of my way to avoid him entirely.
Which is why I am nothing compared to Jesus.

Our Lord would invite him to Supper, and then wash his feet
for good measure.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This Man



Imagine you’re a person of authority in a Court of Law.

The judge, the final arbiter, whatever you say happens.

And they bring to you a man. He is fairly ordinary looking and they accuse Him of saying He is the Son of God. And this is blasphemy according to the Law and He should be put to death.

Before you make such a momentous decision on the man’s life, you decide to do some investigations.

You check and you find that this man has been around for about three years or so. He has been travelling up and down the land, and He has indeed said several times that He is the Son of God. He preaches to people and He tells them to repent from their sins and to follow the Way of the Lord.

So you wonder about this and you think “Well, maybe if I can prove that this man is mad, I could let Him off. I could tell the people that He is insane, and they should let Him go, and I could warn Him not to repeat what He says because it would get Him into deep trouble”.

So you check on the man’s sanity and you find that indeed He is not mad at all. Many people can testify to the fact that he has preached in the temples, and He has debated with religious elders, and shows no sign of being mentally insane whatsoever. Indeed, He is very wise.

And you also find that this man seems to have some supernatural powers because He has healed many people up and down the country. The blind can see, the deaf can hear, the dumb can talk and the lame can walk. And there’s plenty of evidence for what He has done. There’s even a Roman Officer who can testify that He has healed. What better evidence do you want?

And also, you understand, that apparently He has raised people from the dead. Now that’s very strange. No one has ever done that before. But again there’s plenty of evidence of that. There’s the family of a man called Lazarus who apparently had died and had been entombed for a few days yet Jesus raised him from the dead and raised other people from the dead.

And when He preaches He says to people “Your Faith has saved you” whatever that means. And He heals them.

He doesn’t charge at all for what He is doing. He just wants people to repent and follow the Lord.

So you wonder whether He’s some sort of trickster, some sort of charlatan. So you order your soldiers to beat Him up and to rough Him a bit to see whether He admits to being a liar, a cheat.

Your soldiers torture Him, beat Him up, they put a crown of thorns on His head because He claims to being a King of some sort. But after all that the man still does not say anything in His defence.

So you give up. You think, “Well, He is one of their people. He is not one of us. So what’s it to do with me if they want to kill Him.”

So you give orders for Him to be put to death.

Your soldiers put a Cross on His back and ask Him to carry it all the way to the place where He is nailed to that Cross and left there to die.

And just before He dies He asks God in Heaven, to forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.

What’s more strange is that three days later this very man is Himself raised from the dead.  And a lot of people see Him and can testify to his Resurrection.

Now I wonder. Is this enough evidence that this man is really the Son of God?

Because it is for me.

     


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Outermost Limit of Kindness

 Luke tells us that when Jesus was carrying his cross:
Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” Luke 23:27-28

This scripture is also captured for us in the Eighth Station of the Cross:

Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
All: Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Jesus, as you carry your cross you see a group of women along the road. As you pass by you see they are sad. You stop to spend a moment with them, to offer them some encouragement. Although you have been abandoned by your friends and are in pain, you stop and try to help them.

Father John Bartunek in The Better Part wrote, “Amazingly, even in a furious hurricane of personal suffering, his mind is not on himself, but on those whom he loves. . . . This conversation teaches us how to carry our crosses – and Jesus promised that his followers will have crosses to carry, every day."

“Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Fr. Bartunek wrote further, “. . . Our acceptance of God's will when it's costly is the only way to exercise the virtues of faith, hope, and love that will restore our souls to health and holiness. . . . When God sends us crosses they too can be redemptive—just as Christ won grace by carrying and dying on his cross. We can win graces” for those in our lives, those who need them the most “through carrying and dying on our crosses with Christ, uniting our imperfect fidelity and trust to his perfect surrender.” Jesus taught us “salvation comes not in spite of or instead of suffering, but through suffering”

Fr. Bartunek wrote to the reader that Jesus knows we love him and that he knows we want to show him our love. Jesus knows that the more we show him our love, the happier we will be.

That rings true for you doesn't it?

Then he has these words for us in meditation, from Jesus,

“Here is a vast arena where you can love. Every time I permit a small suffering to come your way, if you accept it the way I accepted mine, you can offer it to the Father in reparation to the Father in reparation for the sin of someone who is still imprisoned in sin, and if you do this in my name, you will help set that person free.”

Meditating on this and building upon the prayer in the book, I offer this prayer:

Jesus, I see you carrying your cross, thinking about the mission the Father has given you. You remain sensitive to the needs of others. O Jesus, give me a heart like that! Make me love as you love! I tend to turn in on myself when I am given crosses of sadness or suffering. Help me, Lord. I want to accept what God wills for my cross, to unite it with your suffering, your perfect surrender as the Lamb of God to redeem us, to win graces for those who need them most, including those among my own family and friends. I want so much to show you my love.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, and due to his generosity and love, Our Spiritual Mother too, gave her whole self including her heart to her God, as the handmaid of the Lord. Mary's Immaculate Heart never left Jesus.

God has everything he wants but he only has our hearts if we care to offer them to Him.

In the book He and I, he tells us he is our “incomparable Friend . . . . So don't be upset by anything. Once and for all place your heart in Mine, in joy as in distress. . . . Begin right from this very moment. . . . Ask the Immaculate one for this grace. Her heart never left Me.”

“Step outside of your self-center. This will be a new way of coming to Me. Try to see Me more clearly in those around you and your entire association with others will be transformed.” Instead of feeling sorry that you were not alive when I was on earth so that you could be with me, be fully aware of Me in those around you. Serve Me in them."

To me this is Jesus's pep talk to help us, ok me, follow his teaching in the Gospels:

You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39b

And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brethern, you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:40

Jesus knows it is our joy to please God, that the more we show God our love, the happier we will be.

Jesus used He and I, to tell me the Father has given me (us) many opportunities of pleasing Him. Jesus says, “Go to everyone without partiality. And since it's Me, give them your whole self. Go to the very outermost limit of your kindness. . . . Scatter kindness on everyone alike. . . . Don't I scatter My sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust? Widen your smile as you did yesterday. It glorified Me. My very dear little child, I'm counting on you.”

“If I have fulfilled you, it is for the sake of others too. Be ready to pass on to them with love all that you have received. You owe Me this; you also owe it to them. Believe with all your heart that in sharing this overflow of graces you will help many others. A river gives everything to the sea, yet it always swells anew. My little girl, don't you see, one can never give too much.”

“I'm waiting for you – already giving you all the grace you need, the grace I want you to make use of so that those who meet you will meet Me.”

Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Thank you to the Holy Spirit for orchestrating these meditations and scriptures together with the advice I received from the priest today, “Ask Mary to help you to give your whole heart to others, as she gave her whole heart to Jesus.” It was miraculous and true working of the Holy Spirit that what came out of his mouth was in perfect alignment with the Holy Spirit's teaching of me through my daily meditation books.

A couple parting quotes from Abba Pimen (sometimes spelled Poemen), a desert Father:

“If one overhears hurtful words and instead of replying with similar spite, restrains himself and remains silent, or, having been deceived bears it and doesn’t retaliate — through this he has laid down his soul for his friend.”

“There is no greater love than that a man lays down his life for his neighbor. When you hear someone complaining and you struggle with yourself and do not answer him back with complaints; when you are hurt and bear it patiently, not looking for revenge; then you are laying down your life for your neighbor.”

Those are hard, right. I found this that tells the secret – the secret is Humility:

“Humility has no problem believing that God loves us and will not reject us, damaged by sin and weakness though we are. In light of this love we can give up the need to be above reproach. We do not have to be perfect to perform the small acts of loving service that are right in front of us. Since the person with true humility has no self-image to maintain they can be free to do whatever God asks of them, nothing is beneath them.” from Cal Wiebe.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What's your percentage?

 A man named Jarius pleaded with Jesus for help because his daughter was dying. (Luke 8:40-56).

On His way to Jarius’ house, with a crowd following, there was a woman who had been ill for some time and doctors could do nothing for her. She thought: “if only I could get close enough to Jesus and touch His cloak, I’ll be healed.”

And so she did, and she was healed. Jesus felt her touching Him and said to her: “Your Faith has healed you.”

As He continued His journey a messenger came and told Jarius that his daughter was dead. “Don’t disturb Jesus any further.”

Jesus said to Jarius: “Don’t be afraid; only believe and she will be well.”

He then went to the house and raised the child from the dead.

As He was leaving that place, two blind men followed Jesus. (Matthew 9:27-31).

They begged Him to be healed.

So Jesus asked them: “Do you believe that I can heal you?”

“Yes” they answered.

Jesus touched their eyes and said: “Let it happen, then, just as you believe!”

And their sight was restored.

The common theme in these three incidents is that the individuals concerned believed in Jesus and in His power of healing.

The woman did not even have to ask Him. She believed that touching Him alone would heal her.

Jarius must have been devastated to hear of his daughter’s death; but Jesus told him to believe. He had a quick choice to make: carry on towards the house with Jesus, or send Him away. He believed in Jesus.

The two blind men were asked directly: “Do you believe that I can heal you?”

What a challenge from Jesus Himself. Do you really believe? Or are you here because you may have heard so much about me, or as a gamble that it might work, or for some other reason?

When we earnestly pray to God and ask for something; what percentage in us really believes that He can help us? Or is there that minute 1% of a doubt lurking there, at the back of our mind, making us doubt His willingness, or ability, to help?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Joy Returns

Habemus Papam!

Those words are now imprinted on my mind and heart forever. When I heard them spoken to announce the election of Pope Francis, I got tears in my eyes. I was a mess and yet, at the same time, I was filled with joy!

We have a pope!

As I watched the news and video clips throughout the conclave. I thought how awesome it is, that the Church just keeps doing what it does. Though our hearts are breaking with the empty chair left by Pope Benedict, we just keep on keeping on. Just like we have been doing for 2000 years.

After all, this is Jesus' Church. We need not be afraid. He is with us always. He will not leave us orphans.

And as soon as we saw our new pope, we already loved him. Isn't that amazing? Right away, we saw him and we were filled with joy!

Perhaps the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts of tears and joy so we know, we are sure, that this is the Pope, the successor to Peter, chosen by Christ for His church.

Our 266th pope. Our shepherd, the Servant of the Servants of God. Il Papa.

Habemus Papam!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quick Bytes #50: Everyone

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This tuesday, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio is inaugurated as Pope Francis I
it is important to realize he is not just the head of 1.2 billion Catholics.

He has the message, and points the way, for EVERYONE on earth to
get to Heaven.

Please pray for him.

God Bless.
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

"The humble and hidden presence of the Lord in Mary, in the Church and in each soul, radiates light and hope to the world."

Hope does not disappoint. It has been an amazing week, with ups and downs, but through it all, the Holy Spirit so evident and working in mysterious ways in each of our lives and in the life of the Church at large. I want to share with you one of the most beautiful teachings of our new Pope Francis, given in 2008, as His Eminence Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, SJ, at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec (source The Sacred Page, translation from Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam). My heart is filled with gratitude for our new Papa, a humble, holy, and wise man. Let us pray for him together. You will want to read the entire catechesis, but here are a few of my favorite exerpts, showing both the Eucharistic and Marian heart of our new Pope Francis (emphasis from Michael Barber at The Sacred Page).

First, Mary as a Model of the Covenant, and how she helps us live the Eucharistic Mystery:
Desire and self-offering are the two anticipatory attitudes that convert the Church and also each faithful soul into “new wineskins.” By desire and self-offering we become, like Mary, vessels suitable for the Word to take on flesh within us. The humble and hidden presence of the Lord in Mary, in the Church and in each soul, radiates light and hope to the world. John Paul expresses this beautifully, speaking of the Visitation:

“‘And blessed art thou that hast believed’ (Lk 1:45): Mary has anticipated, in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Eucharistic faith of the Church. When, in the Visitation, she carries within her the Word made flesh, she becomes, in a way, a ‘tabernacle’ – the first ‘tabernacle’ in history – where the Son of God, still invisible to the eyes of men, is offered for the adoration by Elizabeth, as ‘radiating’ light through the eyes and the voice of Mary.”

Mary, therefore, is a model of the Covenant, between the Lord and His bride the Church, between God and each man. Model of a Covenant that is company of Love, confident and fruitful abandonment and fullness of hope that irradiates joy. All of these virtues become music in the Magnificat of which John Paul II gives us a beautiful Eucharistic vision:

In the Magnificat, after all, is present the eschatological tension of the Eucharist. Each time the Son of God is presented under the ‘poverty’ of the sacramental species, bread and wine, the world has within it the germ of the new history, in which ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat’ and ‘hath exalted the humble.’ (cf. Lk 1:52). Mary sings of the ‘new heaven’ and the ‘new earth’ that are anticipated in the Eucharist and, in a certain sense, allows a glimpse into its programmed ‘design.’ Given that the Magnificat expresses the spirituality of Mary, nothing helps us live better the Eucharistic Mystery than this spirituality. The Eucharist has been given to us for our life, as that of Mary’s, all one Magnificat!”
And, the great personal joy of receiving the Eucharist as Mary receives:
Throughout this catechesis, as we contemplate in Mary the mystery of the Covenant, it has been gradually revealed to us the riches of the Eucharist and of the Church. In our Mother all becomes concrete and “possible.” In her school the ineffable mysteries of God are given a maternal face and tone and they become comprehensible to the faith filled with Love which, as God’s faithful people, we profess to Mary. The conclusions to be drawn for the personal spiritual life, I believe, each of us must select from among those in which one finds the greatest joy, as Saint Ignatius asserted in the Spiritual Exercises. Uniting the Eucharist and the sacramental communion with Mary is something that we do intuitively, and deepening our understanding of this is something which does us all good.

For this we might ask the Grace of receiving Communion as Mary received the Word and allow it to take on flesh anew in me; the grace to receive the Eucharist from the hands of the Church using ours as a paten (meaning “manger”), aware it is our Lady who places it there and entrusts us with same; the grace of singing with Mary the Magnificat in that moment of silence that follows Communion; the grace of anticipating in the Eucharist all that will be our day or week, with all the good and positive offered jointly with the bread, and all that suffering and passion offered jointly with the wine; the grace of believing and placing with Love all our hope in that premise and token of salvation we already have in each Eucharist, to later conform our life in the image of that which we receive. Thus, each of may derive benefit from that upon which we have meditated.
And, finally, on going forth to be light of the world and salt of the earth:
It is the incommensurable, unreturnable nature of the gift that has been transmitted to us which compels the Lord to sanctify the Church in an indefectible manner, as He did with His Mother, in such a way that it is assured this gift can be both received and transmitted “for the life of the world.” the mystery of the Covenant that makes the Church all-holy is a mystery of [both] service and of Life. It should never cease to amaze us this definite aperture to the Trinitarian life itself is given and is poured forth not just for some but for the life of the world. This is the case even if not all know it or take advantage of the fruit of the incomprehensible Liberty of the Uno and Triune God whose self-giving is total and for all.

In uniting to Christ, instead of sealing itself off, the People of the new Covenant are converted into a “sacrament” for all humanity, sign and instrument of salvation, in a work of Christ, into a light of the world and salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-16), for the redemption of all. The mission of the Church continues that of Christ: “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.” (Jn 20:21). Therefore, the Church receives the spiritual strength necessary to accomplish its mission of perpetuating in the Eucharist the sacrifice of the Cross and being in communion with the body and the blood of Christ. So, the Eucharist is the source and, at the same time, the summit of all evangelization, given that its objective is the communion of men with Christ and, in Him, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.


H/T Father Andrew for posting the article on twitter.

Cross posted at Heart for God

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Truth, Jesus is the Son of God!


Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 a.m.

From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. there was darkness all over the land. Jesus was on the cross not for 3 hours, but for 6 hours, after being brutally scourged, and after being beaten and abused by the Temple guards, leaders, and people before being handed over to the Romans.

Some meditations say that from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. was when Jesus experienced the soul torments of hell that come from sin.

These meditations teach us to flee from sin as all sin contributed to the suffering and death of Christ from the original sin to the sins before the Incarnation, to the sins of all those living with the knowledge and understanding of Salvation History. These meditations also teach us to flee from hell by not turning our eyes, understanding and hearts to the right or to the left, but instead everyday, under the guidance, sanctifying grace, and coaching of the Holy Spirit, remaining faithful in prayer, reading and studying the Bible, and taking God's and Jesus's commandments as musts, not guidelines or recommendations for how to live our lives.

Why did Jesus yell out "My God, My God, why have you deserted me?"

I have heard this explained as similar to when a father needs to hold down a son for a necessary but painful medical treatment. He keeps his son from moving through act of will, because he knows it is for his good, but he tends to avert his eyes from looking at the face of his child, because it is more than his father's heart can take.

Maybe God the Father, who did not spare his Son for our salvation, averted his inward gaze away from his Son during this time because while he willed for this atoning sacrifice of his beloved Son so that we might have eternal life, joy, love, and communion with him forever, in this moment where his son was nailed to the cross, abandoning his divine power to escape the agony, and suffering the internal soul torment due to our sins, he looked away as his Father's heart was so pained to see the one he loved so much suffering internally, in addition to his external torments, what no one before or since has suffered. Jesus had never experienced this before, and now here in his worst suffering he doesn't feel the gaze of his father.

It was also Jesus invoking the prophetic words of Psalm 22 written 1000 years earlier by King David.

"But Jesus gave out a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, 'In truth, this man was the Son of God.'" Mark 15:37-39

Fr. John Bartunek in The Better Part in meditations on Mark 15:21-29 reminds us,
The souls of those faithful men and women who had trusted in God, and in God's promise during the centuries before the Incarnation were not yet in heaven. They had died in friendship with God, but the gates of heaven were still closed, because no one had yet atoned for the sin of mankind that had closed them in the first place. Now Jesus comes and achieves the atonement. And the first thing he does is go and announce the good news to the souls who were waiting their redemption. . . . Now the mystery of God's saving love is revealed to them in the piercing, loving gaze of their Savior. Now they can experience what they longed for with vibrant faith and faithful hope, the full presence of God as they await the resurrection of their bodies and the final judgment. . . .

Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross reveals that God's love for weak and selfish sinners has absolutely no limit. . . . Love is self-giving for the good of the beloved. . . . His love has no limits . . . .

Paraphrasing Fr. Bartunek . . . Jesus loved us so much that He:
  • Left the Heavenly Glory to become one of us
  • He lived among us
  • He worked and suffered the grind of ordinary life
  • He taught and healed and revealed God's heart
  • He founded the Church to extend his presence and grace throughout all time
  • He let himself be betrayed, humiliated, condemned, mocked
  • He subjected himself to excruciating physical torments
  • He hung helpless on the cross in our place
  • He took upon himself our sins, suffering internal torments, also in our place
  • He the Creator and Lord of all, did not have his life taken from him, he laid it down for us his friends
  • His love was completely self-giving
  • His love has no bounds
Truly, Jesus is the the Son of God. Truly, Jesus is one of the three persons in one God, one of the Glorious and Holy Trinity.

You need to know:
  • Jesus is always with you
  • Jesus understands you completely
  • Jesus's compassion toward you is more perfect than you can imagine
  • Jesus knows that you don't know this
  • Jesus longs for you to know this because . . .
  • Jesus yearns for you to trust him. He knows this isn't easy for you. It may be easy in a given moment, but how constant are we in this trust?
He has done so much for us.

Lord, please give me the grace to more faithfully pray:

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

Jesus, Son of God, I trust in you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

"You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same." (Colossians 3:12-13)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick Bytes #49: Walking Close

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We always find that those who walked closest to Christ
were those who had to bear the greatest trials.
                          - St Teresa of Avila

Comforting ... or scary?
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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Prayer for Our New Pope

Do not forget that the Novena to St. Joseph starts today
and ends on March 19th. 
Go to EWTN for the prayer and daily devotions.

Source


                              O God, eternal shepherd, who govern your 
flock with unfailing care, grant in your 
boundless fatherly love a pastor for your 
Church who will please you by his holiness 
and to us show watchful care. Through our 
Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and 
reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 
Amen. 

Source


May God bless the upcoming Papal Conclave during their decision making process.  
May those present, heed His Word.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for the Papal Conclave!

Blessings,
Noreen

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lenten Tidbits: Confession

Does your stomach grind when you think about going to confession?  Do you duck your head in shame because you're confessing the same sins over and over? Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene has a suggestion for those of us who are out there rolling our eyes at ourselves and thinking, "Am I ever going to beat this?  How embarrassing to be stuck goofing up the same way every week." In meditation #104 of Divine Intimacy he gives us this advice:
...[I]t is much more profitable to fix the attention on deliberate faults [sins] first, then on those which are semi-deliberate - even if they are only simple imperfections - telling not only the faults themselves but also the motives behind them.

Although this method is not required for the validity of the confession, it is certain that the soul will draw much profit from it since the accusation will have exposed the root of the evil.  The soul will benefit too by its act of humility, which will be a stimulus to deeper repentance and will arouse in it a more ardent desire to amend its life, for this is the logical result of considering the motives - usually not noble ones! - from which our faults arise.

Furthermore, an accusation of this kind helps the confessor to have a better knowledge of the penitent's weak points, and to suggest the most suitable remedies, a matter of special importance when direction is given with confession.
I wish somebody had told me this fifty years ago. "Know thyself", an ancient Greek aphorism often ascribed to Socrates, is possible by admitting our motives honestly in all that we do. The better we know ourselves, the more we see how much we need God and the better able we are to humbly submit to His purification on the path to sainthood.

Happy Lent!