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THE GIFT OF CONFESSION

Father Francis's picture
The Octave of Easter

Of all the Sacraments we receive Confession is the most unpopular. The majority of us do not like to admit we are wrong, that we are sinners? Jesus knows how beneficial it is for us to be honest with God and ourselves and to admit that we are sinners and to be sorry for our sins, and so He gave us this wonderful Sacrament. Where is the scriptural basis for the Sacrament of Confession? We have it in today’s Gospel when Jesus said the words, “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.” It was on Easter Sunday that Jesus gave to His Apostles the power to forgive others their sins. How could the Apostles forgive people their sins unless they first confess them and express their sorrow?

The Church knows that people find going to Confession hard and so has laid down the bare minimum for us. So as not to lose touch with Christ and His Church we are expected to make our Easter duties. This means that we must go to Holy Communion between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday. If we only go to Communion once a year it is very likely that we shall offend God or our neighbour in a serious manner and so we are obliged to go to Confession before we can go to Holy Communion.

To commit a serious sin three conditions must be present: It must be something of a serious nature, you must know it is serious, and the thirdly, you give it your full consent. If one of these conditions is not present it is not a serious sin.

Examples of serious sins are deliberately to miss Mass on Sunday or a Holyday of Obligation; to rob a person of a day’s wage; to commit adultery or fornication, that is, living together before marriage; to abort or to help a person to abort a baby; self-abuse; serious character assassination…the list is endless.

To go to Holy Communion with a serious sin on your soul is to commit a sacrilege, another mortal sin. It is not enough to make an act of contrition. You must go to Confession first. If you have a venial sin on your soul it is sufficient to make an act of contrition and receive Holy Communion.

When anyone comes to Confession and says, “Please Father, it is six months since my last Confession,” I say to them, “Here is something to think about. Pope John Paul II said, ‘If we don’t go to Confession once a month we are not taking our spiritual life seriously!’”

Now why should Pope John Paul say that? I can think of three good reasons. The first reason is, when we go to Confession it is to Jesus we confess our sins, so that in itself is a good reason for going.

The second reason is because every time we go to Confession Jesus not only forgives us our sins but He also gives us an increase of grace and all the help we need for the future for we never know what is round the corner. I have known people who go to Mass every day and then one day they go their doctor and after examining them he or she is told, “I am sorry to have to tell you that you have cancer and you have less than six months to live.” Or one of their loved ones dies. They finds this too hard to accept and they say to the Lord, “Is this how you treat your friends? I went to Mass and Holy Communion every day and you give me this heavy cross. I want nothing more to do with You.” They turn their back on God. Monthly Confession is one of the ways of building up a personal relationship with God, so that no matter what hits us we will never turn our back on Him.

The third reason is that monthly Confession is our ticket to Heaven. I can’t imagine if we make a good Confession every month Our Lord saying to us when we die, “I don’t know you!” Rather I can hear Him say, “I know you. Every month you came to Confession to tell me how sorry you were for your sins. Come on, Heaven is waiting for you.”

These are the three reasons why we should go to Confession twelve times a year, once month.

If we have a bank account we like to have a monthly statement from the bank to see how our account stands. It makes good sense. Therefore doesn’t it make good sense to give God a monthly statement about our spiritual life?

Confession is Christ’s gift to us whereby we can be sure that God has forgiven us our sins. There are people of other faiths who would love to have this assurance. Let us make great use of this Sacrament every month.

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