Be Prepared (Confession)

Author: Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA

Be Prepared (Confession)

Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA

Thursday, the 21st Week in Ordinary Time
8/31/06 TV Mass


You must be prepared because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect! Jesus tells us to be prepared whether we're rich or poor... whether we're young or old... whether we're healthy or sick. All of us must be prepared!

Prepare for the coming of Jesus! He will come again like He said He would. He speaks the truth! He is the Truth! The Truth Himself will never lie to us or deceive us! He shall come again to judge the living and the dead!

In our worldly life, we prepare for everything. So this call to be prepared should not sound too strange for us. We prepare for family gathering! We prepare for job interview! We prepare for final exams! Often times, we neglect preparation for spiritual things. Often times, we get so busy preparing for the need of our bodies but neglect the need of our souls. We must be prepared because the Son of Man will come at an hour we do not expect!

How do we prepare for the Lord's coming? What can we do to get ourselves ready? Live the day as the last day. Or we might not live through the end of the day. To think like that perhaps will motivate us to be prepared.

For us, Catholics, the Lord gives us the Sacrament of Confession. This is the ordinary way that the Lord would forgive our sins. No matter what the sins are... no matter how frequent we've committed them. As long as we're sorry for them and as long as we try with God's grace not to commit them again, the Lord will forgive! He will not only forgive, but He will forgive and forget too. That's the awesome Mercy of God!

And the great thing about Confession is that we, penitents, know when our sins are being forgiven. When we hear the priest said: "I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..." That's when our sins are being forgiven. It is the Lord Himself in the priest who forgive our sins. Fr. Anthony made a reference to the sanctuary candle to remind us of the Lord's Presence in the Tabernacle. Jesus is in the confessionals too. He is there in the person of the priest acting in His Person. The sign for Jesus' presence in the confessional is the priest who is a man validly ordained.

And the Church asks of us at least to confess our mortal sins: in kind and in number. "In kind" means the type of sins committed! We ought to name them as best as we're able to name them. If we don't know the specific name, we can explain it to the priest what we did. And you want to be as specific as you can especially in dealing with mortal sins. A possible case may be: confessing in general the sin of impurity. Well, there are various kinds of sin of impurity: impurity in thought or impurity in actions. And there are impurity in actions with self or with others or with something else. And with others could be fornication or adultery or something else. Again, we want to confess them as specifically as we can while including the number of times committed for mortal sins.

Mortal sins are deadly sins. They're deadly because eternal punishments are reserved for the one who dies in mortal sins. St. John in his letter (cf. 1 Jn 5) speaks about sins that are deadly and sins that are not deadly. So when you realized you've committed at least one mortal sin, don't waste any more time, but look for a priest to confess them right away. And this is a very good preparation for the Lord's coming.

We must be prepared because the Lord will come at an hour you do not expect!

And a regular confession (not just once a year to fulfill the Easter Duty)... regular confession (like once a month) is a very good preparation for His coming. With confession, we need to prepare for it too. We don't want to just go in there and treat confession like an automatic "car wash" or treat the confessor like an automatic "absolution machine." What happens when we don't prepare for confession is that it tends to take much longer time than it needs. And people who are in the confessional lines should not be kept waiting a long time because we did not prepare for it. Some may be turned off from going to confession because the line is so long or the line is extremely slow even if there are two or more confessors available.

Just some brief points about confession (I recommend a book by Fr. Dubay – Deep Conversion / Deep Prayer). Some of these ideas are taken from Fr. Dubay's book.

A) The Sacrament of Confession is not intended to be a counseling session about difficult human relations. Any relational problems should be discussed outside of the confessional setting.

B) The Sacrament of Confession is for guilt. It is for sins. It's not for mere feelings or mistakes. So feeling impatient or angry or envious are not sins. Why? Because there's no free will in a mere feeling. Usually we cannot control emotions (at least not completely... so there's little guilt or none at all). One of the reasons we should not confess non-guilt items is that they distract us from what we can correct and should correct which are real guilt and real sins. If we're not sure about the guilt, the doubt should be briefly mentioned. For example: I may have been partially guilty in showing anger or I may have been slow in turning away from an unchaste scene on TV. If we don't have any guilt since our last confession, we can confess past guilt with continuing sorrow because there cannot be a sacrament of confession unless real guilt is confessed. Though the past sin was forgiven already, the Church's power given by Jesus continues to heal and give grace. There is always a form and a matter in each sacrament. For example: the sacrament of the Eucharist, the matter is bread & wine and the form is the words of consecration. Well in the sacrament of confession, the matter is our guilt / our sins and the form is the words of absolution.

C) "Confession Practicum" experience in the seminary... Don't confess other people's sins in your confession. You go to confession for your own sins and not the sins of others.

D) Confess only the essentials of the sin. Don't tell a history of what took place or any unnecessary details.

E) Mother's show - re: Confession... She said: "Make an honest confession and not a pretend one." The priest is not there to hear your good virtues. He's there to hear your sins. You don't go to confession and say: Father, I was very good this week. I gave something to the poor. I was nice to my wife, nice to my children. I didn't eat too much. I didn't drink and didn't get drunk. I was very good. Give me your blessing, Father. Mother said: "You're in the wrong box buddy! He goes to hear what you did wrong and not what you did right... but wrong!"

All these brief points on Confession... most likely you won't hear it in the confessional because the confessor is trying to be as gentle as he possibly can. And there are people who are so easily offended even by a gentle correction.