Sadness leading to depression, anxiety leading to stress, nervous tension leading to angry explosions– much of this is honestly related to lack of interior peace of soul and the root cause is “unconfessed sins”. Seeking this inner peace of mind, heart and soul, why not try the Sacrament of Confession?
Living with guilt and unconfessed sin overwhelms and crushes the spirit. Lady Macbeth could not live with the guilt of murder and consequently had to constantly wash her hands of the guilt of the blood that was shed. Guilt due to sin proves to be unbearable and often leads to sinful escape valves such as drink, porn, drugs, and even to suicide.
Years ago an article in Reader’s Digest came to the conclusion that there were actually less suicides among Catholics in comparison to Protestants and the principal reason was that Catholics have the sacrament of Confession, which as a secondary effect can actually help to overcome stress, anxiety and severe depression.
Why is it that if we step on a rusty tack, we extricate it right away. If a child accidentally takes poison, he is rushed to the hospital. Our junk is waiting outside every week for the Garbageman to trash it. Bad odour in the home is expelled by a scent-spray. Showering and bathing is done on a daily basis. Doctor checkups are regular as means of preventive medicine. A speck of dust in the eye proves to be insupportable. All of these are clear and daily examples of how intent we are in caring for the health of our body. Now what about the health of our soul!!! Our care should be all the more serious. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul. What can a man give in exchange for his soul?
The specific sacramental effect of the sacrament of Confession is healing. Sin wounds the soul as sickness hurts the body. Jesus on one occasion healed the PARALYTIC. Note, however, He first healed the man of his sins and then proceeded to heal his body. Jesus clearly teaches us that the health and the salvation of our soul prevails over the body!
The following are useful tips to use in our preparation for making a good confession!
1. JUST GO! The devil will tempt you not to go in a million different ways. Resist! Just to plan to go and then go!
2. PREPARE! Do your preparation the night before. Never go into the confessional unprepared. Poor sacramental practice! The fruit of the reception of the Sacrament, depends on the prior preparation. It has been written and proven that 90% of the success of the confession is in preparing even before you go into the confessional!
3. TIME! Give yourself adequate time, and a quiet place, and a spiritual environment to prepare well! A half hour to an hour time, silence (no phones, t.v and distractions). The crucifix, Divine Mercy image, and a picture of Our Lady— all these sacramentals serve to help your preparation!
4. JOYFUL ENCOUNTER! Be joyful and positive in anticipating your confession. Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son and the great joy that the father experienced in having the son return home safe. Equally important is the Heavenly Father’s joy in embracing you with love upon your returning home!
5. HOLY SPIRIT AND MARY. Prepare examining your conscience call upon Mary(Our Lady of grace, Our Lady of Mercy) for her assistance. Still more, beg the Holy Spirit to enlighten your conscience to see objectively your sins and to arrive at heartfelt compunction and sorrow for sin.
6. GUIDE. Purchase a good guide, or examination of conscience to help you to see objectively your sins. Remember that the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin. (Pope Pius XII). A strong recommendation is the booklet of Father Altier, Minnesota, Leaflet Press. It is a masterpiece!
7. PEN AND PAD IN HAND. Write down your sins! Why? All of us have “Senior moments” especially when nervous and under pressure. This done, in confessing you have your sins before your eyes. Otherwise, it happens that you confess all of the sins except the most important and leave the confessional and then remember; then you want to go back to confess but either no priest or the line is too long! Afterward, destroy the list of sins!
8. SORROW: PERFECT CONTRITION! Beg for the grace of both imperfect contrition(attrition)— fear of God’s punishment and the possibility of eternal loss of your soul. Better yet, beg for perfect contrition— sorrow because you hurt the one who loves you so much and that you want to love in return. (Fulton’s Sheen’s definition of sin). Perfect love of God far supersedes anything else. Indeed you do not want to hurt your Greatest Lover— Jesus who died on the cross for you!
9. PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Confession serves as healing medicine as well as preventive medicine. When a cold is coming on, better to take a double dose of Vitamin C and avoid the cold. Similarly, frequent confession— even of venial sins— serves as a means to prevent bigger falls! However, look in retrospect to your sins; rewind the moral-compass, and you will pick up what was the person, place, or thing or circumstance that let to your moral collapse. In other words do not play with fire; avoid walking on the slippery slope; do not walk on thin ice and finally, playing in danger results in perishing in it! Good confessions take into account the past falls, the “why”, the reason and the “Kryptonite”. Know yourself and your fatal flaw!
10. PRAY FOR CONFESSOR! St Faustina Kowalska on one occasion confessed and left in confusion and desolation; the reason? Jesus revealed to her that she did not pray for the Confessor before entering the confessional. The next confession, Faustina made sure to pray for the Confessor before entering. That time, the priest understood her perfectly, gave her good advice and she left flying on a wave of consolation. In short, pray for your confessor, and to his Guardian Angel, before entering the confessional; the results will markedly improve!
Conclusion! As catholics, treasures are at your beck and call! Interior peace of soul, purity of conscience, overflowing, joy, innocence restored, sanctifying grace abounding— all of these are free gifts to all of those who make good confessions. However, we must prepare well! The abundance of grace is in direct proportion to the seriousness of the preparation. Finally, listen to these consoling words: “ AND I ABSOLVE YOU OF YOUR SINS IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT….YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN, GO IN PEACE!!!! The merciful Heart of Jesus is opened and waiting for you!