During the gracious Season of Lent, many Catholics return to the sacrament of Penance, some after a few weeks, others after many years. Most of us approach Confession seeking forgiveness of sin and the alleviation of a guilty conscience. Perhaps to our surprise, the sacrament has even more to offer. We have already digested the biblical basis of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation last week.
In today’s lesson, we shall look at the six spiritual effects of the sacrament of penance, as well as how to prepare adequately to make a good confession. It is important to know these effects for a fruitful reception of this Sacrament. (CCC 1468–1470)
Effects of Confession
1. Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace.
2. Reconciliation with the Church.
3. Remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins.
4. Remission of, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin.
5. Peace and serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation.
6. An increase of spiritual strength for the christian battle.
How to make a good Confession
Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation.
We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more.
Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church. This is called an examination of conscience.
To make an examination of conscience:
1. Begin with a prayer asking for God’s help.
2. Review your life with the help of some questions regarding your relationship with God and neighbour.
3. Tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins.
4. Make a firm resolution not to sin again.
Whether we recognize it or not, the Christian life is a battle. We all fight our inner old man, certain of whose tendencies linger after our baptism. Everyday, we are tempted to forget the true God, to use our neighbors, and to seek our selfish pleasure. In this daily battle, even the saints stumble and fall, even if only in small ways. Confession forgives these failures, and it also strengthens us to overcome vices with virtue. Ultimately, Christ is the true victor. He is our strength. He is our salvation.
Finally, do not let this season of grace pass you by without taking advantage of this Sacrament. Besides, it should not be limited to Lent. It should be used as often as fall in sin.
Why confess to a priest when I can speak directly to God and ask for forgiveness? For a concise answer watch out for next week’s lesson on Monday.
God bless you.
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