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Spiritual Confession

Spiritual Confession

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Published by David Bawden
Here is an outline for how to make a Perfect Act of COntrition when the Sacrament of Confession is unavailable to you.
Here is an outline for how to make a Perfect Act of COntrition when the Sacrament of Confession is unavailable to you.

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Published by: David Bawden on Feb 03, 2009
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03/30/2013

 
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Spiritual Confession
One of the most difficult losses in our time is that of the ability to confess our sinsto a duly authorized priest, as the basic Catechism tells us. The loss of the Holy Sacrificeof the Mass is indeed a great loss, and one which cannot be measured by mere man.However, the loss of the ability to go to Confession in some ways is worse for us. Thisloss is worse for us, because we are not forced to take time to examine our conscienceand then proceed into a Confessional and honestly tell our sins to another man, the priestGod has sent to hear our confession.The Commandment of the Church requires us to confess once a year. However,this commandment does not bind, when its fulfillment is impossible. And yet, are weobliged to do nothing? All who have committed a mortal sin are obliged to repent of thatsin and ask God for forgiveness. This is ordinarily done through the Sacrament of Confession, but we are instructed in the Catechism that we should repent at once andmake an Act of Perfect Contrition with the resolution to go to Confession as soon ashumanly possible. This repentance is required of us, even if we cannot go to Confessionnow or even a year from now.Pious Catholics were in the habit of going to confession on a regular basis. Infact, in order to fulfill the usual conditions to gain an indulgence, one must go to
 
2Confession once every two weeks. Canon Law requires Religious to go to Confessiononce a week, and encourages the clergy to go frequently. The habit of weeklyConfession by the laity has been praised by the Saints and other spiritual authors. Weshould look at the Laws of the Church as a bare minimum and exceed them.The question arises, how can we fulfill our part and the spirit of the Law of theChurch, when we cannot fulfill the letter of the law? We would like to encourage all toadopt the practice of a weekly formal spiritual confession, omitting only that one thing,which is absolutely impossible, the actual Confession. As part of this, We would like toencourage all to pray for the restoration or Confession, since one part of the Perfect Actof Contrition is a resolution to go to the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible.Separately We are preparing prayers, modified from those used for SacramentalConfession to enable us to make a weekly Spiritual Confession.Let us go to the Catechism: What must we do to receive the Sacrament of Penanceworthily? To receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily we must do five things:1.We must examine our conscience.2.We must have sorrow for our sins.3.We must make a firm resolution never more to offend God.4.We must confess our sins to the priest.5.We must accept the penance which the priest gives us.There are five parts to the Sacrament of Confession. The first three are alwayspossible and indeed essential to our salvation. The actual Confession can be impossiblefor a time, sometimes even a long time. And finally, when we cannot go to a dulyauthorized priest, he does not give us an actual penance. So, we must select somepenance ourselves, for the command to do penance comes from the Law of God itself.And we should not be satisfied by the Laws of the Church in regard to penance, that isfasting and abstaining. No, our penance must go further and be aimed at correcting andatoning for our faults. We recommend that all study the Catechism and read from piousbooks that give us advice on how to go to Confession. To this We will add someadditional thoughts.
A Retreat
We would like to recommend that all heed Saint Alphonsus’ advice to make aretreat once in their life in order to give up sin. Part of this will be a more thoroughspiritual confession, a spiritual general confession. This is a good preparation forbeginning or renewing the habit of weekly Spiritual Confession. We have providedinstructions and advice on how to accomplish this elsewhere. What follows are someobservations in addition to the basics in the Catechism and prayer books.
Examination of Conscience
Spiritual authors recommend an examination of conscience every nightimmediately before going to bed. Now this is much simpler and different than theexamination we make prior to going to Confession. In preparing for Confession we
 
3examine our conscience looking back to the time of our last Confession. In fact, whenwe enter the Confessional, we mention that it has been a week or whatever since our lastConfession. In this practice, let us examine back to our last Spiritual Confession.The proper matter for Confession is sin. It is essential to confess each and everymortal sin, so we must be very careful in this regard. While examining our conscience,let us also look at the occasions of our sins and consider how we can eliminate these fromour life. We can look at our habitual sins, and take one and begin applying the remedies.
Rationalization
Rationalization is the attempt to excuse our sin, because of some circumstance,which lessens or even totally excuses the sin. There is no excuse for sin, andrationalization is a very bad habit to get in to! Let us be honest, especially withourselves. It is this lack of honesty, which leads so many souls to hell. Let us look at ourreason, and then put it to the test. If I told this to an honest friend, would he let me getaway with this excuse? If I told this directly to Almighty God, would He accept it? Mostlikely He would not, so we should not either. Remember our goal here is to find our sinsand then resolve to go and sin no more.
Sorrow
In the Act of Perfect Contrition, we must be sorry for our sins, because they are anoffense against Almighty God. Saint Alphonsus says: An act of contrition and of lovemakes us friends of God. And Saint Thomas Aquinas advises us: But when there isreason for urgency, the penitent should fulfill his own part, by being contrite.
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Let us read from the Baltimore Catechism (Q766): When will perfect contritionobtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance? Perfect contrition willobtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance when we cannot go toconfession, but with the perfect contrition we must have the intention of going toconfession as soon as possible. And in the previous question (765): What is perfectcontrition? Perfect contrition is that which fills us with sorrow and hatred for sin,because it offends God, Who is infinitely good in Himself and worthy of all love.So let us meditate on the results of sin! Jesus suffered and died on the Cross,because of my sins! The Saints tell us to meditate often on the Passion of our Lord JesusChrist. And let us also consider that at the Agony in the Garden, Jesus saw my sins! AndHe sweat blood! Let us excite in ourself true contrition for our sins!
Go Now And Sin No More
Our sorrow for our sin cannot be genuine, if we do not have the firm purpose of amending our lives, as the Catechism tells us. If we have the habit of committingadultery, if we are going to go out with our significant other again next weekend, then we
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Supplement, Q8, A2

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