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The Power of Words

Fr. Charles Ravert

Pax et Bonum+Peace and All Good

Something you probably didn’t know about me is that I fix watches and clocks for a hobby. I really enjoy it and I’ve been doing it for some time now. Clocks and watches are amazing feats when you see a truly beautifully made timepiece.

A watch or clock consist of many parts but most modern watches depend on a small battery to run. The battery is tiny! I use tweezers or needlenose pliers to remove dead batteries and place a new one in the watch. But sometimes when a watch hasn’t been used for many years replacing the battery isn’t enough to get it working again. Other parts may need to be cleaned or replaced.

It is hard to tell at first glance why a watch might not be working properly. So, we have to examine its pieces, slowly and carefully. Eventually, we’ll get the clock hands ticking and tocking again.

Once we do, and the watch is repaired it is important not to let it breakdown again.

The human person is like a delicate timepiece. Our soul suffers immensely when we don’t take care of it. Just like a watch needs to be cleaned and maintained or a body needs food and water or a mind needs stimulation and rest, so the soul needs truth and love. The sad reality is that a lot of us are walking around like broken clocks. We all need to get checked out by the Clockmaker once and a while!

When we come to the Sacrament of Penance a lot of great things happen but it is kind of like how we repair watches. First, we have to identify the problem, what’s bringing us to the Confessional. We call this an examination of conscience. Taking some time each day, but especially before Confession, to ask the Holy Spirit to help us identify those sins, be they venial or mortal, which we have committed since our last Confession.

Once we have a better idea of the problem then we take it to the Clockmaker, God. But how we do this is important.

When you have a broken watch you can stay home and figure out how to open it and replace the battery. It might take a while and you might damage the watch even further but you’ll eventually be able to figure it out. Or you might get frustrated with it and just give up, throw the watch in a drawer and forget about it.

When we commit sin, especially serious sin, we can stay home and try to figure out why we did it. We might say we’re sorry to God, but what eventually happens is the same as a watch. If we don’t get the right help, we can wind up getting frustrated with ourselves or make excuses beacuse we convince ourselves that our sins “just aren’t that bad.” So we go to a clockmaker to get a watch fixed, and we go to a priest to help get our soul fixed.

The Priest stands in the place of God through the grace of Jesus Christ to help us, not judge, accuse or belittle us.

The priest helps us clean and repair the small details of our souls, those hidden parts of ourselves that we don’t always understand. Like repairing a watch it is delicate work.

This is the confession of our sins to the priest. We get rid of those broken pieces (sins) of ourselves and the priest helps to clean and repair the good parts.

The absolution, God’s forgiveness, comes to us for healing and strengthens us to avoid sin in the future. Once the watch is repaired and polished up we have to be careful that we don’t misuse it or let it fall into disrepair.

When we leave the Confessional our souls are shiny and new in the glow of God’s mercy. But we have to take care not to let our souls fall into sin again. Our Christian life needs truth and love to thrive. Therefore, we should do our best with God’s grace, to avoid those people, places, situations and things that tempt us to fall back into sin. We call this a firm purpose of amendment and avoiding the near occasions of sin.

You are worth much more than any watch or clock. As beautiful as they are, a timepiece cannot come close to the magnificence of God’s masterpiece that is you!

Remember that you are thoughtfully and wonderfully made not to tell time but to live for eternity!

Get to Confession if you haven’t been for a while. Your soul will thank you!


Father Charles Ravert serves as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia.

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