Yet what God has laid upon us as a chastisement He has made the means of salvation: He sends suffering as the chastisement of sin: but by suffering we can be delivered from sin.
As a matter of fact, our whole life ought to be one continued penance. Our Lord says: "Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish" (Luke xiii. 3) And again: "Woe to you that now laugh, for you shall mourn and weep" (Luke vi. 25). He often threatens those who only desire to enjoy life, with eternal perdition (John xii.25). No man, even should be not be conscious of any sin, ought to depart out of this world without doing penance (St. Augustine.) St. Jerome says we can no more everlasting life without penance, than we can get a kernel of a nut without breaking the shell. The greatest saints used to perform sever penance for their slightest faults.
Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance on the day of His resurrection, when he spoke to His apostles: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained"(John xx. 23).
One of the things seem to repel non-Catholics is confession. But once they became Catholics and have experienced it marvelous help and comfort, they become its strongest advocates. It is a common remark by those outside the Church that there Is no need of confessing sins to a a priest; it is better to go straight to God Himself.
Very well, but suppose you wished to see the President of the United States and he referred you to his secretary. It is not a question of what might be or should be, but of what is. Has Christ referred us to the priest in this matter of confession? If so, then the matter is closed. There is no room for discussion.
In point of fact, God has established the sacrament of Penance, and it is the ordinary way He has appointed for the forgiveness of sin. I say the ordinary way, for nothing can stand between God and the sinner who turns to Him with the contrite heart. Where confession is not possible, God does not require it. An act of perfect confession for sin, with the intention of complying with the ordinary requirements should the opportunity offer, will restore the worst offender to God's friendship.
Why does God require us to obtain His forgiveness through confession to a priest? We do not know. It is His ordination. He is the one offended by sin. And it is His right to say how He will pardon. If you offend another, you have no right to tell him in what way he will pardon you. That is his affair. If an offence against one who is but a man like yourself does not permit of your dictating the manner of reconciliation, how much less does your view count when you have offended the majesty of God?
A sinner should be glad to obtain God's forgiveness on any terms. God has stated His terms. He might with justice punish sin on the spot; He might impose on us a condition of forgiveness, a journey to a distant place; He might forgive sin only after years of reparation; He might require a year or several years of our life for each sin. But instead He has for His own wise reasons established the sacrament of Penance for the forgiveness of sin.
Here are the very words of Christ: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain they are retained." These words were addressed to the apostles. By them they are clothed with power from God Himself to forgive or retain sin.
We see something similar is the state. The government makes laws. If one breaks the law, one offends against the state. The state itself does not punish or release a prisoner, but clothes her judges with power to hear and decide. Even after a prisoner is convicted, the state sometimes forgives him; but how? Not directly, but indirectly through the governot, to whom the state has been the pardoning power.
If the state confers on an individual the pardoning power, why should not God forgive through another if He sees fit? If confession was not established by God Himself, what man would be bold enough to introduce it among men? If it is hard to accept it now after twenty centuries of established use, how much harder was it in the beginning? Unless God Himself was itself author, it never could got a foothold in the world. But once realizing that it is God's way, we soon discover that after all it is the best way.
How many millions of souls have received helpful advise in confession! How many have been turned aside from the path if evil by the warning they received in confession! How many struggling souls have been aided to victory by the prudent and firm guidance of the priest who could be no help unless he had known their condition in confession! How many priests have been approached by non-Catholics for advice and comfort because it was known that they could open their hearts to a priest in full confidence, as to God Himself. It is safe to say that legions of souls have fought the good fight and conquered by means of the sacrament of Penance.
God's way is the best way always.
GOD AND MYSELF
By:Fr. Martin J. Scott S.J.
II A GOOD CONFESSION
I. What is the Sacrament of Penance? Penance is a sacrament in which the sins committed after Baptism.
II. What is Confession? Confession is the telling of our sins to a duly authorized Priest for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.
III. Why should we go to Confession frequently? Frequently Confessions greatly helps us overcome temptations, to keep in the state of Grace and to grow in virtue.
IV. What is necessary to make a good Confession? Five thing are necessary for a good Confession.
1. Examination of conscience.
We should make an earnest effort to call to mind all the sins we have committed since our last worthy Confession
2. Sorrow for sins.
We should have sorrow for our sins because sin is the greatest of all evils, gravely offends God and because mortal sins shuts us oust of heaven and condemns us to the external pains of Hell.
3. Firm resolution never to offend God again.
We must resolve not only to avoid sin but also the persons, places, and things that may easily lead us into sin 4.
4. Confess our sins to a Priest.
We must tell all our mortal sins to a priest, their kind and the number of times we have committed each one.
5. Say the penance which the Priest give us.
The Priest give us penance that we may make some atonement to God for our sins, receive help to avoid them in the future and make some satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to them.
PRAYER BEFORE CONFESSION
O Holy Ghost. source of all light, come to my assistance and enable me to make a good confession. Enlighten me, and help me to know my sins as one day I shall be forced to recognize them before Christ's judgment seat. Bring to my mind the evil which I have done and the good I have neglected. Grant me, moreover, heartfelt sorrow for my sins, and the grace of a sincere confession, so that I may be forgiven and admitted into Thy everlasting friendship, Mary, my Mother help me to make a good confession.
(Hail Mary's -3 times)
III Steps for Confession
Five Steps For a
1. Examine your conscience.
The priest now gives the necessary advice, assigns your penance and asks you to say the Act of Contrition (in some form). Then wait and listen as the priest gives the absolution
Then say "Thank you, Father", then leave the confessional and then perform the penance assigned by the priest.
There are two kinds of actual sin, mortal and venial.
Examination of Conscience
Do I give God time every day in prayer?
7. You shall not steal. Have I stolen what is not mine? Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen? Do I waste time at work, school or at home? Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs? Do I pay my debts promptly? Do I seek to share what I have with the poor? 8. You shall not bear false witness. Have I lied? Have I gossiped? Have I harmed someone's reputation? Have I spoken behind someone else's back? Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential? 9. You shall not desire your neighbor's wife. Have I consented to impure thoughts? Have I caused them by impure television, movies, books, magazines or internet? Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations? Do I listen to, or engage in, impure conversations or jokes? 10. You shall not desire your neighbor's goods. Am I jealous of what other people have? Do I envy other people's families or possessions? Am I greedy or selfish? Are material possessions the purpose of my life? Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs? An Act of Contrition "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all My love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen."
8. You shall not bear false witness. Have I lied? Have I gossiped? Have I harmed someone's reputation? Have I spoken behind someone else's back? Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?
9. You shall not desire your neighbor's wife.Have I consented to impure thoughts? Have I caused them by impure television, movies, books, magazines or internet? Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations? Do I listen to, or engage in, impure conversations or jokes?
10. You shall not desire your neighbor's goods. Am I jealous of what other people have? Do I envy other people's families or possessions? Am I greedy or selfish? Are material possessions the purpose of my life? Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs?
An Act of Contrition
"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all My love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen."