Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Confession Part 3

Now that I've discussed why we need Sacramental Confession,  I need to talk about how to prepare for it.

The first part of preparation is knowledge of and sorrow for your sins and contrition. There are two types of contrition and I am going to let the Catechism speak here:

CCC 1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

CCC 1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.

In order to know your sins you must have knowledge of what God expects of us.  God has given us a blueprint to follow in the Ten Commandments.  Knowing the Commandments is a good way start to living them.  For a list of the Ten Commandments and how to memorize them with relative ease see my post, "Quick, What's the Sixth Commandment?"  (7/26/11)

There are many, many ways to examine your conscience.  Since you can Google search that information I won't list it here.

Find an examination that you like and go through it slowly and carefully.  Get out a piece of paper and write down what you come up with.

Once you've examined your conscience and are contrite you are ready to seek out a priest.

To be continued. . .

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On Confession. Part 2

One of the talks I heard was given by  Fr. John Riccardo and I've heard him explain this more than once.  He always says this:  We confess our sins to any number of people everyday.  We tell a friend, a sibling, a co-worker, a spouse; "you won't believe what I did!"

We have a natural tendency to want to get it off our chest; to put it out there and see what someone has to say about it. We're confounded as to why we would do such a thing or how we could continue to be so weak in a particular area.  For example, yelling at the kids, being grumpy with your spouse,  telling a lie to save face, taking something that does not belong to us. The list could go on and on.

We are sinners.  A fallen people striving to do better.

So Jesus gave us the gift of Confession.  Some will say, "Why do I have to go to a priest?  Can't I just tell God my sins and be forgiven?"  The answer is "yes".  But there is so much more to it than just telling God.  He already knows.

Confession gives us some great gifts. Two of them are humility and grace.

How easy it is to say to God, in your head,  I did _________________.  (Fill in the blank).

How HARD it is to confess out loud,  "I did ___________________. " Though we may say it to a trusted friend, we tend to justify our behavior with an added "but" or "because".  How HUMBLING it is to walk into a confessional and lay all the blame on ourselves without excuses and admit that we have messed up.

But with that humility the floodgates of grace open and pour out on us.

With this grace we can move forward and try harder to sin no more.  This grace gives us peace.  It increases our hope.  It make us stronger.  What a gift!

To be continued . . .

On Confession. Part 1

As Lent approaches the topic of Confession is talked about more frequently.

During Lent we are called to repentance, hence the purple color associated with the season.  For 40 days we have the opportunity to really dig deeply into ourselves and weed out the weak areas and try harder to work on the side of us that is truly approaching life as Christ has taught us.

Confession is a sore spot for many people. Maybe you've had a bad experience; a priest who was less than kind, or was in a hurry. Maybe you've sinned big time and are too embarrassed to admit it,  or maybe it's been a while and you don't remember what to do.  Whether you've grown up with it, learned about it and experienced it when you came into the Church in adulthood, or are a Christian who has only heard it talked about by friends who are Catholic, there is so much mystery surrounding it that it becomes a scary thing.

I've heard two talks on Confession in the past two weeks.  I'm grateful that nothing in the talks was new to me.  While I may not be as eloquent as the speakers I've listen to, I'll give it a go and try to do some explaining.

The biggest question out there is "why go to confession?"  The answer is, "Jesus said so."

On the evening of that first day of the week, (Easter Sunday) when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20: 19-23 parentheses and coloring mine.)

Two things about these verses:  1) "He breathed on them" is a reference back to Genesis when God created man: 7the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  (Genesis 1:7).  (A new creation.)
By breathing the Holy Spirit into the disciples, Christ is making them a new creation.  They will no longer be the scared, hide behind closed doors, guys they were. They will go into the world and teach about Christ. 
2) 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Why would Christ give the disciples this gift if He did not anticipate them using it?  He knew that people would come to the disciples and confess their sins and seek forgiveness.  That was a huge part of the ministry of Christ and it needed to be carried on in the Church Christ established. 

To be continued . . .