“In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.”--St. Thomas Aquinas
The sacrament of Confession is an extremely important and underutilized sacrament. It is extremely important because we know that we are sinners - that we miss the mark at times. We need a do over, a new start with God and with each other. The sacrament of confession is indeed the medicine we need in this fallen world to continually repair our relationship with God and others. We receive the forgiveness of Original Sin in baptism and all personal sins when we are baptized as an adult, but the effects of Original Sin are still present - concupiscence. Concupiscence means we still struggle with the temptations to sin and weakness in resisting sin. It is the reality we experience when our disorder passions lead us to do acts that our intellect forbids.
The sacrament of confession is necessary when our sin is grave or serious or what the Church calls mortal. We must receive sacramental absolution before receiving Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin. Venial sins are forgiven through our reception of Holy Communion at Mass. However, it is still a good practice to go to confession on a regular basis (once a month) even if we have not committed a mortal sin (Praise God). Confession not only forgives our sins, but strengthens us not to commit them anymore.
Please do not be afraid to come to confession. We are all sinners and in need of God’s mercy. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven by Our Lord and He wants to help us experience the power of His merciful love in the confessional and His healing grace. When we sin, many times we want to run and hide from God. God wants us to run into His loving arms and be restored to communion with Him and His Church. This year make confession a regular part of your spiritual life. It is necessary to overcome mortal sins that have become habitual and extremely beneficial in growing in your relationship with God, which is wounded by venial sins.
This sacrament was instituted by Christ: “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:21-23). This verse implies that to forgive sins they must be confessed to the Apostles and subsequently to their successors and to their co-workers - the priests. Miracles take place everyday in the sacrament of confession.
Jesus said to St. Faustina: “Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [i.e., the sacrament of confession]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one's misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of ] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God's mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late” (1448).
Be Not Afraid!!
In Jesus’ Merciful Love,
Further Reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs: 1422-1498.
I am a Catholic priest writing about Catholic things.