For me, Confession has been, along with the Eucharist, my greatest source of strength and peace during my journey with the Lord Jesus. As a parish priest, my greatest joys are celebrating the Eucharist for my people and hearing confessions. I am overjoyed when people use the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - We are all sinners. I am a sinner and you are a sinner. We sin every day. We have to take sin very seriously. What is sin? The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us a concise definition. "Sin is an offense against reason, truth and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law" (#1849).
Scripture tells us that actual sin is divided into two classifications: mortal sin and venial sin. "There is a sin that leads to death." (1John 5:16). "Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death" (1John 5:17).
Mortal sin is forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "Confession to a priest is an essential part of the Sacrament of Penance. All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession." (#1456).
As I wrote in my soon to be released book Get Serious!- A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, we all take as a given that the goal of Christianity is to enter into eternal life; however, attaining this goal requires intense daily effort on our part. The spiritual life is not an easy endeavor because of our wounded human nature. True, Baptism washes away Original Sin, but we are left with the effects of Original Sin. We do not have complete control over ourselves. The spiritual life is a continual battle.
As a result of Original Sin, our weakened wills, darkened intellects and inflamed passions will always move us in the wrong direction. Continual effort is necessary to control the inner movement of our ego and allow the presence of grace to take control of our thoughts, desires and actions. The battle of the spiritual life might be compared to walking in a river against the current.
If we do not continue walking or reaching out toward a rock for support, then the current will most assuredly carry us in the opposite direction. If the spiritual life is a continual struggle because of Original Sin, the present circumstances of our contemporary culture make this struggle even more difficult. We have all grown up in a culture that denies us nothing. Everything is permissible. We tend to view discipline, self-control and virtue with distaste.
The producers and writers of television programs, films, music and other aspects of pop culture know exactly what buttons to push to gently ease us into accepting a more permissive attitude toward interests and activities that we ought to shun. Our decadent world is thus made more attractive to our fallen human nature. We find it easier and easier to succumb to any of the seven deadly sins.
Just like all the other sacraments of the Church, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession. The Church has always understood the Scriptural reference for the Sacrament of Confession to be John 20: 22-23: "Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained."
What an immense gift we have been given! The Sacrament of Confession is an enormous source of interior peace. The priest raises his hand, and then with a blessing pronounces those amazing words: I absolve you from your sins. At that moment, we know that God has heard our cry for forgiveness, and we have been pardoned of our sins. "God, who is rich in mercy." (Ephesians 2: 4).
For me, Confession has been, along with the Eucharist, my greatest source of strength and peace during my journey with the Lord Jesus. As a parish priest, my greatest joys are celebrating the Eucharist for my people and hearing confessions.
I am overjoyed when people use the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis. My best parishioners are those who are going to Confession on a regular basis because these are the people who are in the battle. They are alive, not dead like complacent, unresponsive zombies. My heaviest cross as a priest has been the rejection of Confession by many people. If they only knew what would give them such peace and happiness. I do not worry about the people who are going to Confession. I worry about those who never go.
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