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The Sacrament of Confession

Go in Peace
Totus2us podcast with testimonies about God's mercy in the Sacrament of Confession.

3 2us by Father Michael Krychiwsky      

"The essential point is not the number and kind of our sins but the presence of true contrition, the willingness to change. Confession enables us to experience for ourselves what the Church sings in the exultet 'Oh happy fault! Oh necessary sin of Adam which gained for us so great a redeemer.' Jesus knows how to make all of our faults, once they've been repented, into happy faults, no longer remembered for the guilt or the shame that they engendered but for the experience of divine mercy which they occasioned. The way to experience profoundly the joy of Easter is through the door of the confessional."

How to be a "wonderful human being"
by Fr John Edwards SJ, in a parish bulletin, 7 March 2010

An irritating expression. But John Paul II said one could become one very easily. (Well, actually he said " ... manifest true human dignity ...") For good measure he said we could become spiritual giants (" .. spiritual greatness .."). How? By going to Confession.
And Canon Law, no less, asks parish priests to "strive" to get their people to come frequently. Many decent Catholics put it off longer than they should: all decent Catholics start thinking about it in Lent.
One understands the "wonderful human being" bit. With Absolution we are judged by God - and acquitted: every bad moment of the past becomes a thing of beauty in God's eyes - and the worse it was, the more beautiful it is now. Our whole life becomes a complete success story in God's eyes - because of what we have allowed His Son to do.
We have it in our power to do this for God, let alone for ourselves.
But why? Can't God do this whenever I turn to him in sorrow, whether I go to Confession or not?
Depends on the sorrow. If my sorrow is simply for myself ("sorry, Lord, because I've let myself down; sorry Lord because I'm feeling dirty; sorry Lord because I'm feeling frightened") it's hard to see how God can forgive; it's selfish love, inadequeate sorrow, "imperfect contrition".
But if my sorrow is also "for" the person primarily offended in all sin - namely God - if it is love-sorrow, then separation ends, His Life returns in its fullness. This sorrow, "perfect contrition", might be: "Sorry Lord, because I spat in your face; sorry Lord because I crucified you; sorry Lord because I deprived you of what you demanded". Remember the long Act of Contrition? ".. because I deserve (imperfect) ... because I crucified ... because I offended .. (perfect) .. "
But you don't get this sorrow just by saying words; nor by working up a feeling. It needs a massive input from God, an enormous grace. A rebirth, in the case of serious sin: Conversion Grace. And God has covenanted to give us this grace in the Sacrament of Penance.
How? Think about Luke 7, 36-50. This girl didn't stay at home and tell God she was sorry, she got her arms around Jesus. We can do virtually the same, for a Sacrament is when Christ works directly through His BODY, the Church. And Jesus praised her ..! It's worth going even for routine small sins. What a prayer for freedom, blame oneself before God and one witness!
Required? Seriously to want to try to live the way God asks, the Church asks; to list the sins, with approximate frequency if it is heavy stuff. Of course if one wants advice, details, motivation and circumstances might help. Not really a big deal.
"If anyone is still hesitating" says JPII, "let him hesitate no longer". Couldn't put it better myself.

Pope Francis' Catechesis on Confession
General Audience, Wednesday 19 February 2014 - in Arabic, CroatianEnglish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Through the Sacraments of Christian Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist — man receives new life in Christ. Now, we all know that we carry this life “in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7), we are still subject to temptation, suffering, and death and, because of sin, we may even lose this new life. That is why the Lord Jesus willed that the Church continue his saving work even to her own members, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, which can be united under the heading of “Sacraments of Healing”. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Sacrament of healing. When I go to confession, it is in order to be healed, to heal my soul, to heal my heart and to be healed of some wrongdoing. The biblical icon which best expresses them in their deep bond is the episode of the forgiving and healing of the paralytic, where the Lord Jesus is revealed at the same time as the physician of souls and of bodies (cf. Mk 2:1-12; Mt 9:1-8; Lk 5:17-26).

1. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation flows directly from the Paschal Mystery. In fact, on the evening of Easter the Lord appeared to the disciples, who were locked in the Upper Room, and after addressing them with the greeting, “Peace be with you!”, he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:21-23). This passage reveals to us the most profound dynamic contained in this Sacrament.

First, the fact that the forgiveness of our sins is not something we can give ourselves. I cannot say: I forgive my sins. Forgiveness is asked for, is asked of another, and in Confession we ask for forgiveness from Jesus. Forgiveness is not the fruit of our own efforts but rather a gift, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit who fills us with the the wellspring of mercy and of grace that flows unceasingly from the open heart of the Crucified and Risen Christ. Secondly, it reminds us that we can truly be at peace only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled, in the Lord Jesus, with the Father and with the brethren. And we have all felt this in our hearts, when we have gone to confession with a soul weighed down and with a little sadness; and when we receive Jesus’ forgiveness we feel at peace, with that peace of soul which is so beautiful, and which only Jesus can give, only Him.

2. Over time, the celebration of this Sacrament has passed from a public form — because at first it was made publicly — to a personal one, to the confidential form of Confession. This however does not entail losing the ecclesial matrix that constitutes its vital context. In fact, the Christian community is the place where the Spirit is made present, who renews hearts in the love of God and makes all of the brethren one thing in Christ Jesus. That is why it is not enough to ask the Lord for forgiveness in one’s own mind and heart, but why instead it is necessary humbly and trustingly to confess one’s sins to a minister of the Church. In the celebration of this Sacrament, the priest represents not only God but also the whole community, who sees itself in the weakness of each of its members, who listens and is moved by his repentance, and who is reconciled with him, which cheers him up and accompanies him on the path of conversion and human and Christian growth. One might say: I confess only to God. Yes, you can say to God “forgive me” and say your sins, but our sins are also committed against the brethren, and against the Church. That is why it is necessary to ask pardon of the Church, and of the brethren in the person of the priest. “But Father, I am ashamed ...”. Shame is also good, it is healthy to feel a little shame, because being ashamed is salutary. In my country when a person feels no shame, we say that he is “shameless”; a “sin verguenza”. But shame too does good, because it makes us more humble, and the priest receives this confession with love and tenderness and forgives us on God’s behalf. Also from a human point of view, in order to unburden oneself, it is good to talk with a brother and tell the priest these things which are weighing so much on my heart. And one feels that one is unburdening oneself before God, with the Church, with his brother. Do not be afraid of Confession! When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free, grand, beautiful, forgiven, candid, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! I would like to ask you — but don’t say it aloud, everyone respond in his heart: when was the last time you made your confession? Everyone think about it ... Two days, two weeks, two years, twenty years, forty years? Everyone count, everyone say ‘when was the last time I went to confession?’. And if much time has passed, do not lose another day. Go, the priest will be good. Jesus is there, and Jesus is more benevolent than priests, Jesus receives you, he receives you with so much love. Be courageous and go to Confession!

3. Dear friends, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation means being enfolded in a warm embrace: it is the embrace of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us recall that beautiful, beautiful parable of the son who left his home with the money of his inheritance. He wasted all the money and then, when he had nothing left, he decided to return home, not as a son but as a servant. His heart was filled with so much guilt and shame. The surprise came when he began to speak, to ask for forgiveness, his father did not let him speak, he embraced him, he kissed him, and he began to make merry. But I am telling you: each time we go to confession, God embraces us. God rejoices! Let us go forward on this road. May God bless you!"


"Chers amis de langue française, je suis heureux de vous accueillir ce matin. Je salue particulièrement les prêtres de Meaux, les séminaristes de Bayonne, les pèlerins de Québec et de Côte d’Ivoire, ainsi que les nombreux jeunes. En recevant le Sacrement de la Réconciliation, laissez-vous saisir par l’infinie miséricorde du Père, qui vous communique toute sa joie de vous avoir retrouvés et de vous accueillir de nouveau. Bon séjour à Rome!

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Norway, Nigeria, Japan and the United States. May your visit to the Eternal City renew and deepen your love for Jesus Christ and his Church. God bless you all!

Ein herzliches Willkommen sage ich den Pilgern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Im Sakrament der Buße und der Versöhnung erfahren wir Gottes barmherzige Liebe, die uns Kraft zur Umkehr und zum neuen Leben gibt. Gehen wir vertrauensvoll zur Beichte, damit uns die göttliche Liebe erneuere und uns mit Gott, mit uns selber und mit den Mitmenschen versöhne. Von Herzen segne ich euch alle.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los participantes en el Curso Internacional de Animación Misionera, así como a los grupos provenientes de España, México, Argentina y otros países latinoamericanos. Invito a todos a acercarse con frecuencia al sacramento de la Penitencia, a confesarse y recibir así el abrazo de la infinita misericordia del Padre, que nos está esperando para darnos un fuerte abrazo. Gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! A todos vos saúdo, especialmente aos fiéis de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro com o vosso Pastor Dom Orani João Tempesta, desejando-vos que nada e ninguém possa impedir-vos de viver e crescer na amizade de Deus Pai; mas deixai que o seu amor sempre vos regenere como filhos e vos reconcilie com Ele, com vós mesmos e com os irmãos. Desça, sobre vós e vossas famílias, a abundância das suas bênçãos.

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ منالشرق الأوسط. اللهُ أبٌ يَنتَظرُنا دائمًا، وقلبُهُ يَفرَحُ بكُلِّ ابنٍ يعودُ إليه، فلا نَخافَنَّ إذًا مِن أن نَذهَبَ إليهِ ونَسمَحَ لهُ بأَن يَغفِرَ لنا ويَغمُرَنا بِرَحمَتِه!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam przybyłych na audiencję pielgrzymów polskich. W sobotę przypada święto Katedry św. Piotra Apostoła. Dzień szczególnej łączności wierzących z Następcą Świętego Piotra i Stolicą Apostolską. Dziękuję wam wszystkim za pamięć modlitewną w intencji mojej papieskiej posługi, za świadectwo życia dawane Chrystusowi i budowanie wspólnoty Kościoła. W duchu wdzięczności z serca błogosławię wam i waszym bliskim.

* * *

Appeal for Ukraine

I have been following with great concern all that has been happening in Kyiv in recent days. I assure my closeness to the Ukrainian people and I pray for the victims of the violence, for their families and for the injured. I invite all parties to cease all violence and to seek harmony and peace throughout the country.

* * *

I greet participants in the Symposium: “Sacrosanctum Concilium, gratitude and commitment to a great ecclesial movement of communion”, who are accompanied by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as all those who are attending the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the 20th anniversary of its founding, and I encourage them to continue their valuable work in the service of the Gospel of life.

Lastly, I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the Virgin Mary help you, dear young people, to understand every more deeply the value of sacrifice in your human and Christian formation; may she support you, dear sick, in facing pain and illness with serenity and strength; and may she guide you, dear newlyweds, in building your family on the solid foundation of fidelity to God’s will.



© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

St Caesarius of Arles (470-543) - Sermon to the laity, n 59

For our well-being and salvation all the Holy Scriptures warn us constantly and humbly to confess our sins, not only before God but also before a holy and godfearing man. This is what the Holy Spirit advises us to do through the mouth of James the apostle: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed” (5:16) (...), and the psalmist says: “I confess my faults to the Lord and you took away the guilt of my sin” (Ps 31 [32]:5).

We are always wounded by our sins and, in the same way, we should always have recourse to the medicine of confession. For indeed, if God wants us to confess our sins, it is not because he would be unable to know what they are but because the devil wants to find something of which to accuse us before the judgement seat of the eternal Judge. That is why he would rather we thought more about excusing them than accusing ourselves of them. Our God, to the contrary, being good and merciful, wants us to confess them in this world so that we may not be ashamed because of them in the next. So if we confess them then he, on his part, shows himself to be merciful; if we acknowledge them then he forgives (...) As for ourselves, my brethren, we are really your spiritual physicians, seeking with all concern to heal your souls.