Confession: Strength through Humility

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you . . . If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (Jn. 15:9-11).

You've probably already done your Easter duty and gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, right? I truly hope so, because we catechists have got to get to confession if we're going to be effective teachers of the Catholic faith. We must teach with an authentic passion for the subject from a well-informed perspective of personal witness, with the authority and power that only come from being in right relationship to God.

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God . . . (Deut. 28:1-2).

The problem is that people don't like confessing their sins. It's, well, awkward. We prefer not to contemplate the possibility that being what the secular world considers "a good person" is not an adequate response to the sacrifice of Christ's passion and death. The possibility that we are blind to the true state of our souls is frightening.

I often joke that Reconciliation is "the sacrament that dares not speak its name," because so many Catholics avoid it as if it were a sinful practice! But Reconciliation is an essential piece of a powerful system designed by God to work together for our good. For instance, as Confirmation completes the spiritual gifts of Baptism, Reconciliation completes the healing power of the Holy Eucharist. If we want to be healed and strengthened to inspire the next generation, we have to get to confession—regularly. And we've got to make good confessions.

Here are some simple guidelines for making a good confession:

  1. Take a closer look. A spiritual director can be a great help in this essential process. But there's no better way to take the pulse of your spiritual life than by making a thorough examination of conscience.
  2. Here is a terrific examination of conscience for adults, which includes prayers for before and after your confession.
  3. A great perk: There is no greater joy than the feeling of being loved that you get when you genuinely repent of your sins and seek forgiveness. The pleasures of pride simply cannot compare with this radiant and holy peace.
  4. Further enrichment: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1454) advises that we make an examination of conscience in light of the Word of God, and recommends the following readings: Matthew 5-7 (the Beatitudes), Romans 12-15 (duties of a Christian), 1 Corinthians 12-13 (teachings on unity and charity), Galatians 5 (life in the Spirit), Ephesians 4-6 (proper Christian relationships).
  5. A little extra inspiration: Check out the i-Confess entries on YouTube, created by young people to help advertise the importance of the Sacrament of Penance. Here's an entry to get you started.

God bless you, and may the joy and peace of Easter be with you and yours always