The Lord Jesus loves us and wants to forgive our sins and strengthen our souls through the Sacrament of Confession.
On the night of Jesus‟ Resurrection, when he proves that he is the Lord of Eternal Life, Jesus appears to his Apostles and shows them his wounded hands and his side:
“The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, „Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.‟ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, „Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.‟ Gospel of St. John, chapter 20, verses: 20-23 (Jn. 20:20-23).
Talk about 20/20 vision of God‟s love for us! On the night of his Resurrection, Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Confession that we might be assured of the forgiveness of our sins and the grace to be on that path to heaven!
In today‟s Gospel of Luke we read how when someone repents of their sin “there will be rejoicing among the an-gels of God over one sinner who repents.” It‟s no wonder we often feel so clean and fresh after going to confession. It would be like showering after a month of not bathing! Think about confession as bathing your soul in the beauty and mercy of God‟s life and hopefully you will go monthly as a family, or even every other week.
In the early Church people would make a public confession. Although the form of confession has changed, the essentials of confession remain: 1) Examination of con-science: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to know the sins committed, and sins of omission, in light of God‟s Ten Commandments and his Catholic Church‟s moral teach-ing; 2) Be sincerely sorry and detest those sins for harm-ing you, and your relationship with God, his Church and others; 3) Honestly confess the number and kind of mortal sins to a Catholic priest; 4) Receive absolution with a firm resolve to change (this may take time and practice); 5) Have a firm intention and do your penance.
There are two kinds of personal sin, venial and mortal. Venial sin is not serious in nature, but it harms and weakens our relationship with God, such as skipping meal prayers, and it can lead to mortal sin, like skipping Mass without a serious reason like sickness.
A mortal sin destroys the sanctifying grace in a per-son‟s soul because of its degree of gravity - serious nature, although the person may hopefully still have the virtues of faith and hope to help them celebrate Confession. When a person subjectively commits a mortal sin, they do not love God more than that serious sin, even though God gives and sustains their every heart beat and breath, and gives them all that is truly good for them, especially him-self in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The key to anyone‟s spiritual life is to remain in full communion
Three simultaneous conditions are needed for a person to commit a mortal sin: 1) when the thought, or word, or action, or lack of action is serious in nature; 2) the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done and its gravity; 3) and have sufficient freedom of will.
Temptations can be bad or evil thoughts that are unintended. If I do not try to eliminate them but dwell on them with selfish pleasure, then they are sinful and should be confessed.
If a person uses God‟s name in vain because they stub their toe, that is a venial sin because of physical duress. But if a person uses God‟s name in vain because of slow traffic and impatience, that should be confessed before receiving Holy Communion because it breaks the 2nd Commandments, “You shall not take God‟s name in vain,” thus it is a mortal sin and if they are at the age of reason, 7 years old, they should know better.
Everyone beyond the age of reason is responsible for knowing the most important truth: how to love God with all one‟s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Plus, God speaks to every human heart about good and evil. Some people choose to darken their conscience, but God constantly seeks to bring his light of true love to them and the community.
We need to help each other keep that light of faith, hope and love alive. To that end, please note that their will be a Communal Penance Service, Tuesday, September 13, 7:00 -8:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity, with 3 priests so that individual confession can take place after a short prayer. An Examination of Conscience will be provided for Young People and for Adults, so you might want to arrive 5 minutes early to review them.
Then, stay for a special Mass at 8:45 p.m., Vigil Mass of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. There will be a relic of the Holy Cross on the altar during the entire two celebrations.
This is a great way to start a party in heaven! And start off the Faith Formation year that begins on the following day, Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe