We look upon the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and see the horrible consequences of our sins, as well as the mercy of God. Just one venial sin disfigures one’s soul and shuns the fullness of God’s infinite Love leaving us for dead, yet, through Jesus’ crucifixion, and our baptism into Christ, God holds out to us the grace of repentance and forgiveness through his Church by his instituting the Sacrament of Confession to assure our salvation.
Let us trust the words of Jesus: ―If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.‖ Mt. 5:2324.
We offend Jesus Christ our brother, and, in a sense, push sanctifying grace out of our soul when we commit sins against God and others, especially mortal sins which completely pushes God’s saving grace out of one’s soul. Thus, the person needs to be reconciled to God and his Church through the Sacrament of Confession before receiving Holy Communion, which is why we normally offer it before the weekend Masses.
A person of the age of reason commits a mortal sin when these three conditions are simultaneously present: 1.The action or omission is of grave moral matter; 2. They reasonably know this to be true (since God speaks to every conscience); and 3. They freely choose to do it. Jesus clearly states: ―Wicked designs come from the deep re-cesses of the heart:(specific mortal sins in parenthesis have been added): acts of fornication (sex outside of Christian marriage), theft, murder (abortion, euthanasia), adulterous conduct (viewing pornography), greed (not con-tributing to the church), maliciousness (prejudice), deceit (harmful lies), sensuality (homosexual sex, masturbation, contraception), envy, blasphemy (contradicting God and His Church), arrogance (assuming authority that one does not have like trying to change the definition of marriage), an obtuse spirit (dismissing any of the teachings of the Church out of pride). All these evils come from within and render a man impure.‖ Mk. 7:21-23
A mortal sin on one’s soul at death would prevent that person from ever entering heaven. But praise be Jesus Christ! who calls us especially during this season of Lent, to repent of our sins with sorrow, confess the kind and number of mortal sins to a Catholic priest to the best of one’s ability, and make satisfaction by repairing the damage done by those sins. Making ―satisfaction‖ or ―repairing‖ what has been damaged is called ―reparation‖ and can be accomplished by seeking a plenary or partial indulgence, extra prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
The Apostle James, in his Letter (Epistle) found in the New Testament, writes: ―Religion that is pure and unde-filed before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.‖ James 1:27
He also writes: ―Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed…if anyone
among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.‖ James 5:16, 19-20
Let us trust in the Lord’s mercy by receiving the Sacrament of Confession with hearts contrite and grateful for the certain gift of salvation. Let us invite our Catholic friends and families to join us in this celebration of God’s infinite mercy. No sin is so great that God’s merciful love can’t take it away through Jesus’ Sacrament of Confession, so long as the person confesses it, and does not hold back any serious sins.
This sacrament is truly the path of humility and love for Jesus’ sacrificial crucifixion and death. Because of our Baptism into Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Sacrament of Confession is another fount of sanctifying grace which restores us to God’s friendship and his Church – the channel of God’s divine life.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe