Many have drifted away from having frequent recourse to the Sacrament of God’s mercy that we call Confession. The reasons are many! Some have never had their conscience well formed; others are paralyzed with fear; still others simply blurt out: “I have no sin!” Be it as it may, this crisis must be conquered.
The following are five concrete practices that you right now can undertake to promote the return to God’s mercy through returning to the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession.
1. Go to Confession! It would be insincere to try to convince others to go to confession if we ourselves are putting up pretexts and excuses to avoid receiving God’s infinite mercy by avoiding going to Confession. Prepare yourself today and go to confession tomorrow! Do not let the devil of procrastination conquer you!
2. Mercy. Then after you have experienced the infinite mercy of God by making your own personal Sacramental Confession to a priest, then invite somebody to go to Confession. Remind this wandering soul, lost sheep, Prodigal son/daughter that God’s mercy is infinite. Saint Paul reminds us: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.” Furthermore, the Diary of mercy in my soul of Saint Faustina Kowalska asserts that the greatest sinners can be the greatest saints if they simply place their trust in the Infinite mercy of Jesus. Actually, the greatest sin, according to Jesus, highlighted in the Diary, is a lack of confidence in Him! This lack of confidence is what wounds Jesus most.
3. The Prodigal Son and Confession. (Lk. 15:11-32) Invite all to read and to meditate upon the Parable of the Prodigal Son before approaching the Sacrament of God’s mercy as well as to read and meditate upon this spiritual masterpiece after the Confession. You might even focus upon the wonderful gifts that the Father generously bestows upon the repentant son and their symbolic meaning. What are these gifts and the symbolism?
a)Kiss—God’s love for us never changes even when we make mistakes and even big mistakes!
b)Hug—God is a loving Father always willing and ready to forgive us as soon as we can say from the depths of our hearts: God I am sorry; forgive me!
c)Ring—God wants to establish once again a covenant of love with you, but also challenges you to be faithful to Him in the future and reject the temptations to sin.
d)New Cloak—Nakedness symbolizes sin and the loss of grace. The Cloak is symbolic of the clothing and cloaking of one’s souls with the royal garment of sanctifying grace, God’s deep and lasting Friendship.
e)Sandals—given so that we can walk the walk and talk the talk of truly following in the footsteps of Jesus who is the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.
f)Party—after a profound confession, now we can return with joy to the Banquet of the Lord’s Sacrament, the Eucharist, in the context of Holy Mass.
g)Fatted Calf—Now in Mass, having gone to Confession and returning to grace we can nourish our souls on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
h)Music and Dance—A good confession is always a reason to rejoice immensely. Experiencing God’s loving forgiveness, the soothing balm of a pure conscience, the invitation to start a new life, and the keen awareness of God’s all-abiding Fatherly presence—all of these are infinite reservoirs to exult with joy!
4. Examination of Conscience. To facilitate the preparation for the Sacrament of Confession, acquire a good examination of Conscience that explains clearly and to the point the Ten Commandments and give this to this wandering and confused soul. Invite him to read it thoroughly, examine his conscience and even write down the sins that he is aware of. If they are mortal sins, remember to write down the number of times. The Catechism specifies that mortal sins have to be mentioned in both species and number. This is required for an integral and complete Confession!
5. Where? When? How? Somebody who has been away from the Church for many years and has not confessed for as many, may not even remember the basics on how to go to Confession. This could paralyze him. Just go through the basics with him. Tell him where the Church is that has Confessions. Remind him of the schedule posted by the priests in that Parish. Then remind him on how to enter the confessional, make the sign of the cross, and tell the priest how long it has been since his last Confession and then tell his sins to the priest who represents Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician. In the Diary of Saint Faustina three important conditions are emphasized to make a good confession:
- 1) Sincerity, which means transparency in telling one’s sins;
- 2) Humility—not glossing over the sins, point the blame at others or trying to justify or rationalize one’s sins;
- 3) Finally, obedience. When the priest, who represents Jesus, also as Teacher and Guide, gives advice as well as the penance, then we should humbly submit to and accept these words as coming from Jesus Himself.
Saint James encourages us with these powerful words on the importance of bringing a wandering soul back to the Lord:
“My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner form the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”(James 5:19-20)
These most encouraging words can apply to our efforts and attempt to bring a wandering soul and sinner back to the loving embrace of the Father of the Prodigal Son by returning to the Sacrament of God’s mercy which is the Sacrament of Penance. May Our Lady, who is invoked under the title “Refuge of sinners” as well as “Mother of mercy” spur us on to bring the wayward sinners back to the loving and merciful Heart of the Lord Jesus!
Editor’s note: To find times for confession near you, please go to MassOnTime.comwhere you can search by day and parish in your area.