Thursday, 1 March 2007

Thoughts on Confession

Joee has asked me to write a post about confession, and as I do not like to dissappoint my fellow bloggers, I will oblige as best as I can.
The sacrament of confession is probably the most neglected of all the seven sacraments, and this is one of the greatest problems facing the Church today. All Catholics are required to go to confession once a year, and as one must be in a state of grace in order to receive Holy Communion, more frequent and regular confession is advisable (You may remember my earlier post on that subject). I can tell you from personal experience that adopting such a pattern is extremely valuable to one's spiritual life. Of course, as well as going to confession on a regular basis, it is of no small importance that we make a good confession (Frs Zuhlsdorf and Finigan both have advice on this). Is it possible to make a bad confession? Yes, if one were to conceal something from the priest. If we love God, then why would we hide something from Him? Almighty God knows our deepest thoughts, but we confess our sins to Him through the priest in Persona Christi. To forget a sin unintentionally is not sinful, but to wilfully hide a sin from God is dishonest to say the least. In receiving this sacrament, we should open ourselves to God's grace, as He will not force His way in, hence we should have no qualms about opening our most intimate depths to the ineffable gift of His grace.
As with all of the sacraments, a human sign is used-in this case, sorrow. Not only do we confess our sins, but we also express our sorrow for sin. A priest reminded me a few months ago that the priest sits in judgement in order to discern whether or not the penitent is sorry for having offended God, the priest is not judging whether or not the penitent is guilty of these sins. On a recent episode of Desperate Housewives, I recall a woman repeatedly visiting her confessor and boasting of her sexual escapades. Evidently the writers have missed the point. Someone who really knows what sin is, and is truly sorry for having offended God by sin would surely not abuse the gift of God's forgiveness.
Above all, remember that however hard it might be, you will never lose anything by going to confession. Certainly it takes determination and even courage, but it is a small price to pay for the precious and priceless gift of God's mercy.

2 comments:

Oliver McCarthy said...

Have you confessed watching Desperate Housewives? :)

You did miss one important point, which is that one is obliged to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion if one has committed a mortal sin. You may already have been forgiven by God because you may already have made an Act of Perfect Contrition. But the requirement in Canon Law to go to Confession is still binding.

The traditional practice which followed from this was that in the days when people made their Communions on Sunday priests would customarily hear confessions on Saturdays and Saturday evenings, and then those who had received Absolution would start their fasts at midnight so that they could receive Communion the next day. And of course in the old days the fast was from water as well as from solid food, to encourage those who were to receive Our Lord to receive Him sitientes or 'thirsting'.

PBXVI said...

Great Post on Confession, and I am glad I've run across your blog! Keep up the good work! God bless!