Friday after Epiphany
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, JAN. 8th Lk. 5: 12-16 “It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’ And the leprosy left him immediately.”
- Leprosy of the body can be likened to leprosy of the soul – we call it Sin. Just as Jesus healed leprosy of the body, today He heals the leprosy of our souls.
Part 1: On Confession (Excerpt)…by Saint Francis de Sales
Part 2: CONFESSION AND GOD’S HEALING MERCY by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1: On Confession (Excerpt) by St. Francis de Sales (Taken from “Second Part of the Introduction to the Devout Life” — Ch. 19.)
Our Savior has bequeathed the Sacrament of Penitence and Confession to His Church,  in order that therein we may be cleansed from all our sins, however and whenever we may have been soiled thereby. Therefore, my child, never allow your heart to abide heavy with sin, seeing that there is so sure and safe a remedy at hand…
Make your confession humbly and devoutly every week…even though your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults. You exercise the graces of humility, obedience, simplicity and love, and by this one act of confession you practice more virtue than in any other.
Be sure always to entertain a hearty sorrow for the sins you confess, however small they are; as also a steadfast resolution to correct them in future. Some people go on confessing venial sins out of mere habit, and conventionally, without making any effort to correct them, thereby losing a great deal of spiritual good.
Beware of unmeaning self-accusations, made out of a mere routine, such as, “I have not loved God as much as I ought; I have not prayed with as much devotion as I ought; I have not loved my neighbor as I ought; I have not received the Sacraments with sufficient reverence;” and the like. Such things as these are altogether useless in setting the state of your conscience before your Confessor, inasmuch as all the Saints in Paradise and all men living would say the same.
But examine closely what special reason you have for accusing yourself thus, and when you have discovered it, accuse yourself simply and plainly of your fault. So again, do not accuse yourself of not having prayed to God with sufficient devotion; but if you have given way to voluntary distractions, or if you have neglected the proper circumstances of devout prayer–whether place, time, or attitude–say so plainly, just as it is, and do not deal in generalities, which, so to say, blow neither hot nor cold.
PART 2: CONFESSION AND GOD’S HEALING MERCY by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
One of the greatest gifts that our merciful Savior gave to the world was the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus came to the Apostles and then breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, shall be forgiven; whose sins you retain, shall be retained.” (Jn. 20:21-23)
In this moment, with these words and with the breathing forth of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of His Infinite Mercy that we call the Sacrament of Confession, Penance, Reconciliation, Forgiveness.
In this brief essay we would like to encourage all to have great trust in God’s Mercy and to approach with trust, confidence, humility and faith the Sacrament of Confession. We will offer ten short encouraging words and suggestions to help us receive this great Sacrament more worthily.
Trust in God’s Infinite Mercy
Jesus complained to Saint Faustina saying that the greatest sin that wounds His Sacred Heart most is a lack of trust in His Infinite Mercy. Jesus said that if a sinner had as many sins as the grains of sand on the seashore, if they simply trusted in His Mercy, that would be enough to engulf and swallow those sins in the ocean of His Mercy. Saint Paul reminds us: “Where sin abounds, God’s mercy abounds all the more.” (Rom. 5:20) Indeed, the greatest sinners can become the greatest saints if they simply trust unreservedly in God’s Mercy. Examples abound: Mary Magdalene, the Good thief, Saint Augustine, Saint Margaret of Cortona, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Camillus de Lelis, Saint Mary of Egypt, and many more!
Prepare yourself well for the reception of the Sacraments. In fact, sacramental theology enunciates this important principle: one receives grace in proportion to the disposition of the heart and the prior preparation before receiving the Sacrament. Therefore, have a good examination of conscience booklet at hand. Give yourself time to prepare for this encounter with your loving and merciful Savior. Do your examination in silence and beg the Holy Spirit to assist you in your soul-searching. Write down the sins on a sheet of paper so that when you go to the priest, who represents Christ, you will not draw a blank due to nervousness. The better the preparation, the better the results—as is the case in any practice!
Personal Encounter with Christ
Strive to understand that our religion is fundamentally a personal relationship and friendship with Jesus. Jesus indeed is the friend who will never fail us. If we can understand that the essence of sin is hurting the One who loves us most, the One who desires a deep friendship with us, the One who died shedding every drop of His precious Blood on the cross for us, then it will be much easier to avoid sin in the future. At the Last Supper Jesus called the Apostles friends; we, too, are the friends of Jesus. Sin is not so much breaking a rule, but breaking the loving Heart of Jesus, our best friend!
Appreciate the Sacrament, the Graces, and the Opportunity
A constant danger for practicing Catholics is to take the Sacraments for granted. As in a marriage, it is always possible to take one’s spouse for granted. Likewise, we can take Jesus and His Sacraments for granted. Our attitude should be such that every time we receive the Eucharist, as well as Confession, we should receive the Sacrament as if it is our last time and we will be judged upon the way we receive the Sacrament. As the sign in some sacristies reminds the priest: “Say Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, and your only Mass.” So every time we approach this Sacrament of God’s Mercy may we strive to make our Confession as if it were our first, last, and only Confession!
Firm Purpose of Amendment
There are five steps in making a good confession:
- Examination of Conscience.
- Sorrow for sin.
- Firm Purpose of Amendment.
- Confession of sins to the priest.
- Carry out the penance given by the priest.
The third step, in many penitents, should be improved. By this we mean that to confess well there must be a firm commitment on our part to avoid any person, place, thing or circumstance that could lead us into the snares of sin. This demands self-examination, self-knowledge, humility, and fortitude. This also demands rewinding the film of our life to see where, why, when, how, and who it was that led us into sin. There are many sayings that spell this out: “He who does not know history, is condemned to repeat the same errors.” Socrates stated: “A life that is not examined is a life that is not worth living.”
A key proverb of the Desert Fathers says it in two succinct words: Know thyself! If you like, use an image from Superman, we have to know our own Kryptonite—our own weak point, or our own Achilles heel!
Pray for the Priest Confessor
On one occasion, Saint Faustina left the confessional and felt intranquil, lacking the peace that she usually experienced after making her sacramental confession. Jesus appeared to her and told her the reason for this lack of peace was because she did not pray for the priest Confessor before entering the confessional. A short prayer for the priest Confessor—a Hail Mary or prayer to the Holy Spirit or prayer to their Guardian angel—can dramatically improve one’s confession. Try it!
Qualities of a Good Confession
In the Diary of Saint Faustina, Jesus highlights three indispensable conditions for a good confession. They are: transparency, humility and obedience. When we confess to the priest, who really represents Jesus, the Divine Physician, we should be as clear and transparent as possible. Next, we should never try to justify, rationalize, or blame others for our sins and that means, we should be humble. Finally, we should obey whatever advice or counsel the priest gives us, recognizing that the priest acts in the person of Christ.
It is of capital importance in the spiritual life to receive the sacraments well, but also with great frequency. The Church allows, as well as encourages frequent Confession as a most efficacious means to grow in holiness. One is obliged to confess mortal sins in number and species (kind of sin). However, the saints and Popes strongly encourage us to confess even venial sins; this is called a “Confession of Devotion.” One could also confess past mortal sins already forgiven and renew sorrow for them. All too often, sins leave a deeply ingrained habit or stain in our soul. Frequent Confession serves to gradually expunge and eliminate the stain! The warning, however, is to avoid making mechanical, routine or perfunctory confessions—to confess without sincere sorrow and any firm purpose to amend our ways!
If it is such that there is some confusion, doubt or uncertainty about some moral matter, or personal behavior, then you should be humble and forthright and ask your confessor to clarify the doubt. In other words, moral theology teaches us that we should never act on a doubtful conscience. On the contrary, we should clarify the moral question with our confessor before acting. Having a well-formed conscience, and a pure and clear conscience due to sincere and well prepared confessions—gives interior peace of soul, one of the greatest gifts that you can experience this side of heaven.
After you have completed your confession, make sure that you thank God abundantly for His Infinite Mercy, for His kindness, for His compassion, and for the gift of the Sacrament of Confession. God rejoices in the hearts of those generous souls who render Him constant thanksgiving. May the prayer of the Psalmist be our prayer: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” (Ps. 136:1)
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA