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The Lenten season is a season of prayer, fasting and good works. It is a season wherein good Catholics try to become better Catholics. The life of prayer, fasting and good works assumes that the Christian soul has ceased from all serious sins, otherwise, the prayer, fasting and good works will be done badly.

We must repent before our sins can be forgiven; and the steps toward repentance are:

A) Know your sins. To be able to do this, we must know all the commands of Christ (not merely the ten commandments of God), since sin is defined as disobedience to the commands of Christ. Since much study and reflection is needed to know the commands of Christ, most Catholics, due to ignorance, tend to underestimate their sins, the consequence of which is an improper repentance.

B) Accept your sins; like the prodigal son we must say, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. Treat me as your servant."

C) Acting as a judge, condemn yourself; and

D) Punish yourself;

E) Confess your sins to God and to the priest.

If we miss even one of these steps, our repentance is defective and our sins remain in our soul.

A good Lenten retreat, therefore, consists in staying home, living a quiet life, reducing all business affairs by half, increasing one's prayer, fasting and good works. . .all to the end of finding out one's sins exactly as they are. 

St. Caesarius of Arles







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