Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sacrament of Mercy, Part V

We have gone through what the Sacrament of Penance is. Now we should consider how we make our confessions.

First, we should use only the words necessary to convey the sins committed. We should not elaborate or make excuses. It there are circumstances which change the gravity of a sin, then we should reveal them. For example, one can confess using hateful language towards someone else, but should not go into a whole explanation as to why. Yet, a person should mention if the language were used against one’s mother or father or against God.

Next, we should be specific. The penitent should indicate how long it has been since his last good confession and then tell all his sins, whether they be in thought, word, deed or omission. It is necessary to be clear, not trying to mask the gravity of a sin or to be so euphemistic as to obscure what the sin is. One should not say, for instance, that he did bad things or was not a nice person. What does that mean?

Finally, each confession should be complete. We should never keep anything back out of a sense of shame or for any other reason. Remember each of us is heartily sorry and not partly sorry for our sins.

We want to make a clean slate with God. Loving Him, we want to make sure that we confess our sorrow for everything that has offended Him. This is where the examination of conscience comes in. An honest look into ourselves is liberating.

Indeed, Confession is the Sacrament of God’s mercy. He waits for us there, not to condemn but to embrace us, telling us tenderly that our sins are taken away. Our souls are sanctified by being washed in the Blood of Jesus, His Son. In the case of forgiven mortal sins, grace is restored to the soul. If the sins forgiven are venial, then grace is increased.

Let us take a serious look at our use, or lack of use, of the Sacrament of Penance. Has it been a while since the last confession? Have my confessions been only infrequent? Only before Christmas and Easter? Have I let it fall by the way side?

Let us pray to God seriously about this. May we get into the practice of making good confessions frequently.

Father Stanley