So there we have it!!
Where to even begin?
It starts with contrition sorrow for sin and a desire to turn back to the Lord
It has to be expressed through the disclosure of our sins, the confession of our sins
Paragraph 1455 says, “The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others.”
Think about any human relationship
If there is just hiding or deception or this wound that exists and no one talks about it, there is no possibility for forgiveness or reconciliation
So we have to disclose our sins
Some people argue that God already knows our sins so why do we have to say them in Confession?
Yes, God knows everything
When we go to Confession, we are not telling God something He doesn’t already know
We are giving Him access to something He doesn’t have
St. Jerome says in Paragraph 1456, “...‘for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.’”
We have to be willing to GIVE GOD ACCESS TO OUR WOUNDS
We have to be willing to GIVE GOD ACCESS TO OUR SICKNESS
We have to be willing to GIVE GOD ACCESS TO OUR SINS
If we are not willing to give God access to transform our hearts with mercy and forgiveness and grace, then no matter how much God knows, He can’t do that
The one UNFORGIVABLE SIN is the sin against the Holy Spirit
ANY SIN WE DO NOT ALLOW GOD TO FORGIVE!!
THE REFUSAL TO ALLOW GOD TO FORGIVE OUR SINS!!
It is the refusal to disclose our sins to the Heavenly Father who forgives us through the Power of Jesus Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit
We need to not just reconcile with our brother or sister even though that is important
Paragraph 1456 says, “Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: ‘All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue…”
So what are the REQUIREMENTS for mortal sins?
FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT IT IS GRAVE MATTER
FREELY CHOOSE TO COMMIT THIS GRAVE SIN ANYWAY
Why are these important?
Because not all sins are grave
St. John says, “There are some sins that lead to death. And there are some things that do not lead to death.”
We call these mortal sins and venial sins
If I don’t know a sin is grave, then am I really committing it?
That sounds more like an accident
I did not know
I was unaware
I was ignorant
Now there is such a thing as VINCIBLE ignorance and INVINCIBLE ignorance
Oh, I should have known means VINCIBLE
I had no way of knowing this means INVINCIBLE
Maybe you did not know that if you are conscious of mortal sin, we must not receive Holy Communion until we go to Confession first
That is a consistent teaching of the Church forever
You might not have known that
You didn’t harden your heart to do that
You didn’t try to avoid that teaching
You just did not know
IN that case, sin has been committed, but I am not culpable of that sin
Yes it is a grave matter, a big deal sin
But I am not responsible for that sin because I did not even know
It was more like a mistake
So let’s go back to Mass attendance on Sunday, which is a big deal
If I intentionally skip Mass on Sunday, that is a mortal sin
What if you’re living somewhere like Northern Minnesota and you go out to your car to get to Mass on a Sunday
And when you get in your car, it doesn’t start
You do everything you possibly can
You call a neighbor
You see if anyone else nearby is going to Mass
Say you have a child and as you’re getting ready for Mass, he/she starts puking all over the place
Etc. etc. etc.
In those cases, yes you did not go to Mass
You are not freely choosing to do this
You are not saying, “God, I know what you want me to do. I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do.”
In the case of a sick child, you are there to take care of your child
That’s not the same as thinking it’s cold outside and you don’t feel like going
That’s not the same thing as choosing to go to Walmart instead of Mass
So we have to confess all mortal sins that we know of
The Council of Trent in Paragraph 1456 says, “When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest…”
THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO UNDERSTAND!!
The temptation for us is if we have an embarrassing sin we may not want to confess it
So if I confess all these other mortal sins, but I knowingly withhold EVEN ONE, then ultimately I am placing NOTHING before God’s mercy
I AM NOT FORGIVEN OF ANY OF THOSE SINS!!
Because if I’m going to go back home, I have to go back home
Remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son?
The Son returns to the Father
He does not keep a place in this far off land and say that he’s going back over there
He FULLY RETURNS to the Father
He lives in the Father’s house
So if we are going to come back home, WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY COME BACK HOME
If we are going to return to the Father, WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY RETURN TO THE FATHER
I have to reveal ALL THE MORTAL SINS THAT I AM AWARE OF
We have to do ALL OF THEM or else I’m revealing NONE OF THEM
Now, if I accidentally forgot that I meant to confess a sin, ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN
I should go to Confession the next time and bring that sin and say, “Oh, Father, by the way I forgot to mention this sin in my last Confession.”
THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!
One instance is that I am WITHHOLDING THIS and not giving God ACCESS TO IT
The other is simply forgetting
The first instance is HARDENING MY HEART
GOD, I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I DON’T CARE. I WANT WHAT I WANT.
The other is, “God, I know what you want and I want to do it all. But I am weak. I am forgetful. Sometimes I don’t do it perfectly.”
God makes up for our weakness
God makes up for our lack
GOD WILL NOT UNHARDEN A HARDENED HEART!!
GOD WILL NOT FORCE HIS WAY IN!!
Hope that makes sense!!
St. Augustine says in Paragraph 1458, “Whoever confesses his sins…is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities when you hear ‘man’-this is what God has made; when you hear ‘sinner’-this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…”
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
Whenever I have sinned against my neighbor, I must do what is possible in order to repair the harm
Paragraph 1459 says, “Many sins wrong our neighbor, One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much.”
That is simple justice
We are not going above and beyond
At the same time, my sin always injures myself
My sin always weakens my own soul as well as my relationship with God and other people
I have to do something to restore that
Absolution takes away all sins
THERE IS ALWAYS THE CONSEQUENCE OF SIN!!
WE ALL HAVE TO ENDURE THE CONSEQUENCE!!
Sometimes that consequence is outside of ourselves
Think if you had a friend that you were cruel to
You can’t just go to Confession and say that you’re forgiven and everything is OK without restoring what you broke when you said that cruel thing
We have to work to restore what I broke when I said that cruel thing
Absolution takes away the sins
There are CONSEQUENCES that we experience
Fr. Mike is talking about a torn ACL in your knee now…
So now your knee is fixed after invasive surgery
Something I could not do myself has been done for me
That’s like when we go to Confession and Jesus, by His Power, by His Grace, He heals me
He forgives me in a way that I could not do on my own
If you’ve ever had invasive surgery, you know that you cannot automatically go back on the basketball court
You have to do physical therapy
Yes, your knee has been healed because the surgery was successful
In order to run and jump again, you have to GET STRONG AGAIN
Sin wounds us in such a way that only God’s grace can HEAL us
That’s the Sacrament of Reconciliation
We have been wounded in such a way that we now walk with a limp
Now we love with a limp
We are given a penance to do in the sacrament of Reconciliation
The penance is not a punishment
The penance is meant to be REMEDIAL
The penance is meant to STRENGTHEN THE KNEE
The penance is meant to STRENGTHEN US SO THAT WE CAN RUN AGAIN
The penance is meant so that WE CAN HAVE THAT RELATIONSHIP RE-ESTABLISHED IN AN EVEN STRONGER WAY THAN IT WAS BEFORE
Penance is for the consequences of our sins
Paragraph 1460 says, “The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed.”
Whether you confess your venial sins or mortal sins and get the same penance ultimately the priest OUGHT TO take into account your personal situation and seek your spiritual good
It SHOULD correspond, as far as possible, with the gravity and nature of the sins committed
Maybe you come to Confession and confess to sins of pride
So pray the Litany of Humility as penance
That makes sense, right?
GROW IN HUMILITY!!
Or maybe you’re really short-tempered with your family members
Go say three kind things to your family by the end of the day
Something like that
Fr. Mike is just winging it now…
If we had knee surgery, the physical therapist is not going to work on my elbow
They are going to work on my knee
If I’ve been wounded in the area of lust, then my penance should work on the area of love
If I’ve been wounded in the area of anger then my penance should consist of patience
That’s the goal
The way it shakes out in real life is not always that way
Sometimes priests are less than creative when it comes to penance
A person is asking for God’s mercy and the priest does not want to add any extra burden
Time for Fr. Mike’s story…
Sometimes we can be convinced that if we have a really hard penance then we are doing our best to earn it
Maybe the priest sees that you are trying to earn forgiveness and gives you 1 Hail Mary to pray as penance
You may want something harder
Well, maybe you have a tendency to devalue God’s mercy and overvalue your work
If that’s the case, maybe a lighter penance would be the kind of thing that PIERCES YOUR HEART more to learn how to TRUST IN GOD’S FREELY GIVEN GRACE and trust less in your own ability to “earn that grace”
WE CANNOT EARN GRACE!!
Paragraph 1460 says, “The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ.”
WE CAN DO NOTHING OURSELVES!!
WE DO IT ALL WITH JESUS!!
EVEN OUR PHYSICAL THERAPY!!
Confession is an incredible sacrament
Fr. Mikes wants us to know not only the overarching heart of confession but also the nuts and bolts
So the next time you go to Confession, you can experience absolute grace, freedom, no fear, and be able to lay down every one of your sins before our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit WHO LOVES YOU SO MUCH
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!