Confession

SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION (CONFESSION):

FREQUENT CONFESSION: IS IT NECESSARY?
Just as it is necessary to take shower frequently in order to keep the physical body clean of dirt and bad odor, so also it is necessary to keep the spiritual soul clean of sin. Frequent auricular confession helps to achieve this purpose. Just as I dust my house periodically without waiting for big pieces of materials to lie about before dusting my room because I believe that residues of particles of dusts rest on exposed surfaces, so also should I dust my soul periodically by making frequent confessions even when I have not noticed big mortal sins in my life. Physical dusts even when they are not noticeable can harbor germs and infections, hence, it is necessary to dust our rooms or where we carry out activities in order to keep the place free from infections and germs. Likewise, when venial sins accumulate so much, they could weigh down the soul and cause it to stumble into mortal sin. Too many venial sins in our souls could blur and darken our spiritual vision, blunt the sharpness and accuracy of our spiritual judgment, weaken and incline the soul to stagger and stumble into mortal sin. 

I should always remember that there is an enemy the devil who would not like me to go to confession, because he knows that going to confession destroys all his evil works in my life. At the confessional, the devil confronts Christ Himself in the person of a priest and his evil works (sins)are destroyed and blotted out of the soul because the reason why the Son of God came was to destroy the works of the devil (1Jn. 3:8). This being the case, the devil does everything in his power to stay me from confessing my sins to the priest. He knows that the priest has got the power to forgive sins in the name of God and this power is conferred unto him by Christ himself when he said to the apostles: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”(cf. Jn. 20:21-23).

It is the will of Christ that all he taught and did should be carried on by the apostles and their successors (bishops, priests and deacons) until the end of the world when he announced: “Go and make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and teach them to observe all that I have taught you. And, look, I am with you always until the end of the world” (Mt. 28:19-20). Preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations by the apostles and their successors who are the Catholic bishops and priests of today is part of what Christ taught that should be done (Lk. 24:47).

It must be noted that Christ’s power to forgive sins is not limited to confession or sacrament of reconciliation. Being God He cannot be limited by the sacraments he established. He could forgive sins in so many other ways. But it is better to follow his simple instructions and use what he has given to us and not presume on His limitless power and magnanimity.

When I go to confession, three things are taken care of: The sins that I confessed, the sins that I forget to confess but have no intention to conceal them from the priest, and the sins that I fail to confess because I do not know that they are sinful, are all forgiven. But when I do not go to confession at all, all of the three remain in my soul. The result is that they clog and harden giving rise to pride whereby I get used to being in sin without feeling it but only having the feeling that I am a pretty good boy or good girl and therefore, do not need to go to confession because there is nothing to confess. At this point the conscience has been totally silenced and deadened. This is satanic delusion and is inspired by the devil, the enemy of our souls. From this point on, the devil becomes the winner of my soul which is very tragic.

The yardstick set for us is to be holy as God is holy. “Be you holy for I the Lord your God Am holy” (Lev.19:2). Christ announced: “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” (Mt.5:48). Working hard to stay away from sin and do good and making frequent confession, thereby acknowledging that I am imperfect, being human, would enable me get close to being holy like Him. At the confessional God Himself makes me holy and restores back to me the grace that I have lost through sin. This restored grace boosts afresh my spiritual energy to carry on the good fight against sin without surrender, because surrender is NOT an option in the ongoing moral warfare.

 

HOW FREQUENT SHOULD MY CONFESSION BE?
The frequency of confession depends on the individual’s own situation and circumstance. It is all about love. How much do I love Him who died for me and gave himself for my spiritual nourishment? The degree of my reciprocal love for him determines how frequent I will make myself available for confession if confession is always made available on regular basis in my parish.

When I receive Holy Communion I commune with the God of highest purity and sanctity. I take shower frequently not because I stink but in order never to stink and be a nuisance to those around me. Likewise, I should take frequent spiritual bath or shower by making frequent confession not because I stink of sin but in order never to stink of sin but keep spiritually fresh and clean making my soul ever worthy to receive Him who died for me.

Man is a composite of body and soul and each of these composites should be taken care of without neglecting the other. Think of all that we do for the body, procurement of health insurance, medical checkup, daily nourishment with balanced diet, trimming of finger and toe nails, hair making/barbing, plastic surgeries, cosmetic makeup, painting of eyelashes, lips, etc. They all cost money. If I should care as much for my physical body which will eventually degenerate with old age and rot in the grave, how much more my spiritual soul that will outlive the body either to be damned in hell or glorified in heaven depending on how I take care of it here on earth?

 The more I wash my soul through confession the cleaner I become. I can never wash enough no matter how frequent I wash because I can never out do God in holiness. The Word of God tells us in Proverbs: “The righteous man falls at least seven times a day and rises again” (Prov. 24:16). God does not lie. If this is how it is even with a righteous man, how much more myself, a wretched sinner? I may not be aware of all of my daily sins because I can sin by thought, word, commission or omission unawares. We are daily exposed in an environment that is corroded with sin and we pick it up as we pick dusts in our daily encounter with the material world and those around us.

The Church obliges us to confess our sins and receive Holy Communion at least during the Paschal (Easter period), a practice known as Easter duty. I should not limit myself to this basic requirement if I can move about freely and have access to priests around me all the time. Individuals who can limit themselves to this basic requirement are those who are handicapped by health or confinement in prison and those who live in areas where it takes time to find a priest such that lay people like Catechists conduct Sunday services as it is in certain localities of mission countries. We don’t have such situations here in the United States of America.

When I am not conscious of any grave sin in my life, making confession in two or three week’s interval may not hurt if I have the means and choose to do so. I do not sin if I do not maintain such frequency because it is a devotional or pious practice. But I am obliged to make an auricular confession without delay the moment I am conscious of a grave sin in my life in order to prepare myself for reception of Holy Communion.

It is a grave sin and sacrilege to receive Holy Communion with a grave or mortal sin in my life that has not been confessed and forgiven. Two kinds of individuals give honor to Christ at worship: those who receive holy communion because they have truly prepared themselves by being in the state of grace and those who refrain from receiving holy communion because they judge themselves unworthy and stay back on their sits.

Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary was so prepared to the point of being conceived even without any stain of original sin so that she might be holy enough to conceive in her womb the God of the highest purity and holiness, so must I also be conscious of preparing myself before receiving Holy Communion, bearing in mind that it is the very same God whom Mary conceived in her womb that I receive in my tongue and consume for my spiritual nourishment.

It is only a good sacramental confession that would enable me get a little close to an adequate preparation before receiving so good, so humble, so merciful and so sweet a God.