Gosh, I guess am a little slow at updating this blog. Well slow is better than never I guess.
Let's wrap this series up on confession. If you missed part 1 and part 2 please read them first.
Rather than getting all technical and sounding like a walking Catechism I wanted to keep this post as down to earth as possible tonight.
Confession is one of the greatest gifts our Lord left us. And sadly it is the one sacrament most people miss out on. I don't want to generalize or judge but I sometimes wonder if everyone walking up to communion is in the state of grace. I pray they are as receiving our Lord in the Eucharist in an unworthy manner is serious sin.
But what do we do if we fall from grace and commit mortal sin? The answer is easy. Tell God you are sorry and mean it. Don't wait until Wednesday night at 7:00 PM since that is when confessions are heard. Say it now. In fact, if you are in the state of sin as you read this please stop and close your eyes and tell God you are sorry and ask our Lady to pray for you.
Once this is out of the way you need to stop receiving communion until you reconcile yourself with the church via confession. I am here to tell you on this blog that I sin about as much as anyone and there are many times when I walk up to communion and place my finger over my mouth in order to receive a blessing.
Funny story along these lines. There was one Sunday when I was carrying my now 4 year old daughter Kileigh up to communion. When I reached the Priest I placed my finger in front of my mouth as I needed to go to confession first. After church, when we were walking to the car Kileigh asked me, "Daddy, why didn't you take the chip?" I laughed so hard I almost cried. I simply replied, "Because, baby, I need to tell Jesus I am sorry first."
So here is the deal about going to confession. If you haven't been for a long time (even 40+ years) fear not. When I came into the church I had 30 years of sin to confess! No matter how long it has been you simply need to follow a few steps to prepare.
- Do a thorough examination of conscious. The easiest way to do this is to think of how you may have broken any of the ten commandments.
- You also need to actually be sorry (have contrition) for sinning against God. If you are not sorry and simply say the words to the Priest, who sits in the person of Christ (in persona Christi), this is not a valid confession.
- Find out when confessions are heard or schedule a private confession.
- Confess your sins to the Priest.
- Receive absolution and any instructions from the Priest.
- Do pennance as prescribed by the Priest.
- Fight sin with all your might and pray to our Lady and St. Michael to help protect you.
Now, number 4 (confess your sins) is the tough one for many. For me, I must admit I love confession and get this amazing feeling of anxiousness before going in. But for some the minutes leading up to confession can be scary.
All you have to do when you go in to see the Priest is kneel behind the screen or in most cases you can sit face to face. I like the screen.
Then the Priest will usually start off by saying, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Sometimes they don't.. in which case you just get on with it!
Now it's your turn.
You should start by saying, "Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been (insert time) since my last confession."
Normally the Priest will sit silent at this point. Then you simply tell the Priest the sins you committed and in some cases how many times you committed them. If you are not sure where to start just say, "Father, it's been awhile and I am not sure where to start." Trust me they know how to help you through this.
Don't be ashamed or leave anything out. For one, it can make the confession invalid if you purposely leave sins out. For another, God already knows your sins... He just wants to hear you say your sorry to the Priest, who again sits in the person of Christ. So don't leave anything out!
Finally, I usually end my confessions with this saying. "I am sorry for these sins Father, and for any sins I may be forgetting."
Now at this point the Priest may talk to you about some things. They may not. They will then give you absolution from your sins and state your pennance. I have had all kinds of pennances... everything from take your kids to McDonald's for a special treat to saying a certain amount of Hail Mary's. Whatever the pennance is do it with a cheerful heart!
It comes down to this. Either the church is dead wrong about confession or completely right. There is no in between.
If you bet for the church and go to confession on a regular basis what harm can come of it? Even if the church is wrong about confession there can be no harm in confessing our sins.
On the other hand, what if you bet against the church and don't go to confession and the church is right. This will result in infinite loss (hell).
It's time to place your wager. Where will you lay your chips? My bet is on the Holy Roman Catholic Church.