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Simple reasons and steps to receive the great miracle and the great joy of God’s mercy
Why do I have to go to Confession?
Because your sins have offended your loving Creator who died to make you his divine child. Your sins are the cause of his painful, bloody death on the cross. Your grave sins cause the loss of friendship between you and God, and the loss of the greatest treasure in your soul: grace, God’s gift of divine life, greater than the natural universe! Without grace, we cannot enter heaven. Upon dying, souls in mortal sin go to hell with its eternal pains. (Cf. CCC 291, 2096, 598; 1035)
Above all, because God is a lovingly compassionate Father who looks forward to embracing you, covering you with kisses and making merry with you in Confession. (See Lk 15:20-24) “Nothing is more important,” taught Pope Francis, “than choosing ‘what pleases God most’, in other words, his mercy, his love, his tenderness, his embrace and his caresses!”; “God never gets tired of forgiving us”. "His mercy is infinitely greater than our sins.”
Forgiveness in Confession is “the greatest miracle” (Jesus to St. Faustina) and brings “the happiest moment in life”. (Bl Alvaro)
Why go to Confession to a priest? Why not straight to God?
1. It is God who determines how he will forgive you. Not you. It's the offended party not the offender who says, "I forgive you".
2. God said "confess your sins to one another" (Jas 5:16), and gave power to men to forgive our sins. He breathed the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and said: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:23). God’s action would be useless if you can go directly to him anyway. It is biblical to go to confession!
3. God made Confession a sacrament: a concrete sign through which our merciful Father embraces us and gives us back the great treasure of grace we lost in sin. Confession makes us feel the blissful cheer of the heavenly celebration when the prodigal son returns home.
4. God is a good Father who wants to assure us by making us know we are forgiven. He wants to lift the burden of guilt we carry by making us hear him say through his priest, “I absolve you”. What a great relief and joy to go to confession!
5. We also offended the Church, so we also need to be reconciled with her. Because all Christians form one body, our sins hurt the members of Christ’s body. It's fair that we say sorry to the Church's head, Christ, through his representative, the priest.
6. As a baptized member of the Church, we follow the laws of this society. As any good member of a community, we do not do just anything we want.We relish God's laws.
It is good to say sorry to God many times, especially when we commit a sin, and we know that God listens to us. Going to Confession shows the sincerity of our contrition, our decision to act right and follow God.
False excuses exposed
1. “I am ashamed. I'm shy.” Since you were not ashamed to do evil, it should be easier not to be ashamed to do the good deed of confessing.
2. “Priests are men like me.” God became a man, and he gave men power to do divine things: write God’s Word, sanctify God’s people, and forgive our sins (give us God’s embrace!).
3. “Priests will know my sins.” Priests are gravely bound to secrecy, and have heard hundreds of confessions of the same type of sins. Your sins are not special.
How do I go to Confession?
Only 3 simple steps:
1) Examine your conscience. Try to remember all your sins since your last Confession, and be sorry for them.
2) Confess to a priest. Say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was: (state when). My sins are: (tell your sins and their frequency).” When done, the priest will give advice and ask you to say an Act of Contrition, while he gives the absolution.
3) Do the penance the priest gives.
Simple guide to an examination of conscience: List of sins based on God’s ten commandments.
1st – 3rd: Disrespect for God. No total love for God. Self-centered, not God-centered. Missing prayers, Sunday Mass, other duties to God. Superstition. Distrust, disbelief in God. Communion in mortal sin. Idolatry.
4th: Disrespect, disobedience to parents and authorities. Neglect of family and social duties. Poor religious and moral education.
5th: Wishing evil on others. Harming, bullying someone. Bad example. Overeating. Hatred. Substance abuse. Drunkenness. Self-mutilation. Thoughts of suicide. Murder. Abortion.
6th and 9th: Impure thoughts, desires. Immodesty. Porn. Masturbation. Denial, abuse of marriage rights. Contraception. Premarital, extramarital sex. Homosexual acts.
7th and 10th: Wasting time at work. Indifference to the poor. Envy. Cheating. Stealing. Not returning, damaging other’s property. Not paying debts. Materialism. Paying unjust wages.
8th: Lying. Gossiping. Calumny. Destroying the good name of another.
Most important: contrition centered on the Crucified
Jesus’ key message is: Repent! Change your heart! Be holy by beginning again and again. The secret of the Christian life is to center our minds on Jesus’ passion, death and rising. To look at Him pierced by our sins, whose wounds heal us with his boundless love. So we will joyfully encounter Jesus often in Confession: at least monthly.
Popes go to confession weekly or every two weeks. Some went daily. They strongly recommend that we go often to help us (1) avoid the build up of sin, (2) advance speedily in virtues, and (3) keep the desire of perfection alive. And so we will be Jesus’ intimate friend, who bring others to meet him in the miracle of Confession.
Download one-page leaflet here.
Please also see: Depression and the powerful role of Confession to bring back joy
Also very important: PUTTING CONFESSION AT THE CENTER: Importance and Church Recommendation for Frequent Confession
Note: These one-page leaflets have started going viral around the world. Leaflets were posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England") and in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada, in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Starting to Go Viral!