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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why Confession? Maybe the better question is Confession, why not?

Why Confession?

First of all what is the Sacrament of Confession? The Shadow Priest from Real Catholic TV gives a short seventeen minute Cliffs Notes version.
But after listening there are still so many questions. Maybe now isn't the time to have all the answers. We are all sinners, and Jesus doesn't want us to beat ourselves up over our sins. Which is precisely  why Jesus gave the Apostles and their successors the Sacrament of Confession and the beautiful words of absolution, "Go in peace your sins are forgiven."

After His resurrection Jesus appeared to the Apostles and said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:21-23)

Don’t Beat Yourself Up
 Fr. Kubicki S.J.

How does one prepare for the Sacrament of Confession?  A good examination of conscience and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill my heart with Your holy gifts.
Let my weakness be penetrated with
Your strength this very
day that I may fulfill

all the duties of my state conscientiously,
that I may do what
is right and just.
Let my charity be such as to offend no one,
and hurt no one's feelings;
so generous as to pardon sincerely
any wrong done to me.
Assist me, O Holy Spirit,
in all my trials of life,

enlighten me in my ignorance,
advise me in my doubts,

strengthen me in my weakness,
help me in all my needs,

protect me in temptations and
console me in afflictions.
Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour Your light into my heart,
my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to live a holy life and to
grow in goodness and grace.

Examine your conscience by going over the Ten suggestions, Commandments. My weakness, my greatest difficulties lie with the fifth commandment that whole murder, anger, resentment, hate thing?  My children will ask me when I leave for confession, "Mom are you going to have to confess you murdered someone again?" "Yes," I answer knowing I need to get that monkey off my back yet again and start over with the grace of God.  It is hard for me to articulate all that the fifth commandment encompasses but the Shadow Priest has given a short Cliffs Notes examination of  each Commandment, links are listed at the end of this article. There is far more to each command of God when one further examines them in depth.

Now I know that this "Mystery Priest" may seem a bit harsh at times but look at it this way. What would you think of a doctor who cared nothing about disease one who didn’t want to talk about disease let alone treat it? A doctor who didn’t care a bit about your physical health. Or a doctor afraid to tell you the truth because he didn't want to alarm you. Suppose your symptoms were clearly that of a dangerous disease, but your doctor  concealed from you the true nature of your illness. What would you think of a doctor like that?

Now, what would you call a priest who doesn’t care enough to speak out against sin? To educate or remind his parishoners what sin is and how it separates us from God's grace, food and sustenance for our soul.  What would you call this physician of the soul who will not deal with the one thing that can kill the life of grace in the soul? Mortal sin. If you die from an illness because your doctor was negligent, you loose physical life. If a priest fails to speak out against sin you may well lose your immortal soul. Maybe the Shadow Priest is doing us a favor.

I find it incredible that priests, who speak out in truth, are labeled as ridged or insensitive. While ones who maintain a culpable silence, the ones who tell us only what they think we want to hear are esteemed as being understanding, sympathetic, or merciful.

We are all in need of reconciliation with God, even Blessed Mother Teresa went to confession.  Unless we can say that we are sinless we will slip into habits of sin.  The Sacrament of Confession gives us the grace to break some of those habits and get the "monkey off our back."

Habits of Sin Fr.James Kubicki S.J.

Never underestimate the psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits of this sacrament. When I leave the confessional I feel as if a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  My heart and soul feel free from the pain of guilt.  Jesus left us this sacrament because he knew that sin and guilt can tear the human soul apart, drive a person to depression and despair, and rob them of inner peace and joy. The joy that comes with having a clear conscious before God. There is something about the human person that needs to be very much at peace with God. This sacrament allows us to wipe the slate clean, start over and receive God’s grace to avoid the same sins again.

After one receives absolution, why do they need to do penance? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way in paragraph #1459 "Many sins wrong our neighbor.  One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries)....But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor.  Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.  Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin:  he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins.  This satisfaction is also called penance."

Sharing in Jesus’ Joy

When you have confessed your sins to the best of your ability, to the best of your memory, not holding anything back deliberately, if you hold even one mortal sin back deliberately you have an invalid absolution.  If you are truly sorry for all of your sins and have a firm purpose of amendment to try and not commit those sins again, you leave the confessional with confident assurance of God’s mercy and complete forgiveness. Even the sins you have forgotten to confess are forgiven. So long as you have a contrite heart – God sees the disposition of the heart.

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