This is a response we gave to a lady who complained to us about being ashamed of going to confession. We’re sharing for the benefit of others.
My dear, it is important to understand that sin is a very serious thing. It should never be easy to go to confession as such. Since you already have that “sense” to realize how hard it is to confess, may it also spur you on to avoid sin when occasion presents itself.
Confession demands among three other things (i.e. Repentance, FULL confession, without hiding anything, and restitution, i.e. making up for what you have spoilt with the sinful act) Courage and filial trust in God’s forgiveness. Let the parable of the Prodigal Son always remind you of this, you may read it every time before preparing for confession, it might help you.
The Courage with which we approach confession, coupled with the remorse arising from sincere repentance go on to meet the forgiveness of God which is given us through the ministry of the Priest; we receive this Sacrament beautifully and are blessed; our fingers are again bedecked with precious rings, our bodies covered with the Robe of Holiness and our feet with sandals of service.
Once more we are readmitted into the People of God; the Church. We are welcomed once again into the fold; the chosen fold marked with the Seal of the Spirit of Christ, and destined to co-reign with Him for all eternity.
We indeed should not be afraid to tell our sins to the Priest of God, we should be confident that through this millennia-old tradition (which even the Jews practiced) God heals our Souls. So why should we fear?
ARE WE SCARED OF THE PRIEST?
He is not there as a judge, but represents the loving mercy of God. He is also there with his own faults to keep him from judging us, he is there to be our brother and helper. So why should we be scared of him?
ARE WE SCARED OF THE LORD?
In the Priest, he is there not as judge, but as our healer. He himself had SWORN to forgive us “even if our sins are red as scarlet, he will make us white as wool”. Why then should we be scared of the One whose name is LOVE. Yes, he is a Just God, but he IS MERCY AND LOVE ITSELF to those who repent with a good heart.
WHAT TO EVEN BE SCARED OF
As is the case in other sacraments, we should be scared of ourselves and our motives; we should be sure we receive in the right way and in the proper disposition. Some people abuse the sacraments and this is a sacrilege. Some go to confession without first repenting from their sins and consequently removing everything associated with that sin from their lives. We keep these instruments of sin and go to confession. The outcome is an insult to the Mercy of God, and we can be sure of a grave sin. Others get scared in the confessional and hide some of their sins or some details to the sins already confessed.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR CONFESSION?
1. Be truly sorry, examine your conscience
2. Be ready to sincerely, willing and radically change.
3. Talk to your priest as you would in your conscience or as you would pray to God directly; opening your mind before him.
4. Do your penance EXACTLY as instructed.
5. Try very hard not to return to your sins.
YOUR CONFESSION IS FAKE OR AT LEAST SOMEWHAT INCOMPLETE/INSINCERE WHEN:
1. You are still keeping part of what you “gained” through sin, e.g. stolen/ill-gotten goods/money.
2. When you still boast about your past sins
3. When you still nurture an overt or covert intention to commit another sin.
4. When you lie to the Priest or hide some details from him.
5. When you go for confession JUST TO RECEIVE COMMUNION ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS AND NOTHING MORE.
6. When you do not repent sincerely; repentance which spurs you to good works.
Be sure to go to confession as soon as possible.
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