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The Church has precepts (or laws) to ensure the bare minimum requirements for your spiritual survival. The second precept makes it obligatory for you to confess your sins at least once a year (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2041-2043, Canon Law #989). But if you want your faith to fully alive, consider the example of Pope John Paul II who received this Sacrament weekly. WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ANY SINS TO CONFESS? Unless you are the Christ or the Immaculate Conception, Scripture warns us not to deceive ourselves and make God a liar (1 John 1:8-10). Such a claim is nonsensical and does not square with experience. It's likely you have been self-justifying and excused your sinful actions and attitudes as “small“ or “only human“. Of such people, the Bible says, “He flatters himself in his mind, that he knows not his guilt“(Psalm 36:3). Have a look at the Examination of Conscience behind. Ask your family or friends if there is anything you do or say that bothers them. Consider what the Lord of Truth may accuse you of on Judgement Day. Jesus said to the self-righteous Pharisees that because they refuse to acknowledge their sins and ask for forgiveness, they remain condemned (John 9:40-41). WHAT IF I DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR MY SINS? Contrition, or sorrow for your sins is an essential part of Confession. It includes hatred of the sin and a firm commitment not to sin again. There are two kinds of contrition. Imperfect contrition "detests sins because of God's just punishment“ (Act of Contrition). It results from seeing the ugliness of sin or fear of hell and other punishments. Perfect contrition, on the other hand sees that sin “offends and hurts“ a person, that is, God himself. The sacrament of Confession is effective as long you have some sense of contrition, perfect or imperfect.
WHY CAN'T I CONFESS DIRECTLY TO GOD? God's plan is that you should go through His Church. That is why Jesus gave to His authority to Her leaders, “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained“ (John 20:23). Apostles, bishops and priests are given this special Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). On our part, we are told to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16, italics mine). Confessing to a priest helps you to counter that often-unnoticed yet dangerous sin of pride. It reminds you that you are ultimately in a relationship with God not because of how good you are or what good you've done, but rather because of His undeserved mercy and grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God. It is not from works so no one may boast“ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through this sacrament, you rely on and receive God's help to fight against future sin and temptation. Confessing to a priest also removes the need of a subjective “feeling“ of forgiveness. You can be confident that you are forgiven because you are following His method of receiving forgiveness as revealed in the Word of God. From a psychological perspective, acknowledging your fault enables you to take responsibility over your actions and is the first step to healing. The Psalmist says, “As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away; I groaned all the day (Psalm 32:3-4). Oftentimes, the priest will also provide sound advice on avoiding sin in the future. DO I HAVE TO TELL THE PRIEST EVERYTHING? The priest does not want to pry but it's important for him to know enough details, like frequency of your sin, to be able to diagnose your spiritual health. Your confession is guarded with a seal and
should a priest break it, he is automatically excommunicated. WHY CAN'T I RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION IF I HAVEN'T CONFESSED MY MORTAL SINS? God punishes every sin. But some sins are more serious than others. We call these mortal or grave sins because they completely destroy our relationship with God (in contrast to venial sins where the relationship is merely wounded). For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present: 1. grave matter 2. full knowledge of the evil act 3. deliberate consent of the will Among the more obvious of such sins are: abortion, sexual immorality, neglecting Sunday worship and help of the oppressed. The author of the letter to the Hebrews lays out the consequences of such sin, “If we sin willingly after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgement and a flaming fire“ (Hebrews 10:26). God himself will deny you (2 Timothy 2:12) and even the prayers of your Christian brothers cannot help you (1 John 5:16). If you find yourself in such a spiritual state, you should refrain from receiving Holy Communion, otherwise further judgement will come upon you (1 Corinthians 11:29) For such persons it is even more urgent that you approach the sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as you can.
to enslave. ancestors. refusing dependence on God and trusted man as the sole maker of his own progress and material prosperity? Have I been afraid to confess the Catholic faith? Have I used the name of God and His saints improperly? Have I blasphemed God. animals and the use of resources? Have I failed to support the Church generously? Have I neglected to use my social. by praise. ouija boards and other superstitious or occultic practices? Have I put God to the test? Have I been disrespectful towards the sacraments. astrology. to avoid an awkward situation or to look good? Have I been insincere? Have I failed to keep secrets confidential? Have I been envious of other’s possessions? Have I been resentful of my position in life or grumbled against god about a misfortune? Have I maintained friendships or frequented places that are continual occasions of sin? PREACHING IN SEASON & OUT OF SEASON #5: SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION TR U E CONFESSIONS “If we acknowledge our sins. sulky and incommunicative to them? Have I been uncooperative and negligent in doing my house chores and homework? Have I been rebellious? Have I shown them my appreciation for their effort in raising me by helping them? Have I been selfish about my possessions especially with my brothers and sisters? Have I exercised my responsibility as a brother or a sister to them? Have I given respect. looks or behaviour? Have I been impatient. avoid sin and near occasions of sin? Have I intentionally concealed my sins in confession? Have I fulfilled the penance the priest gave me in my last confession? Have I observed Church days of penance? Have I had sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate my family and social life? Have I threatened or mistreated my parents? Have I been rude. torture or kill people? Have I lied under oath or failed to keep promises? Have I used offensive or vulgar words? Have I wished evil on anyone? Have I failed to participate in Sunday Mass and Holy days of obligation? Have I come late. pirated VCDs and DVDs? Have I abused creation. quarrelsome. or unnecessarily spread negative remarks about someone even if it were true? Have I ruined anyone’s reputation? Have I rashly accused anyone of wrongdoing or false motives? Have I. evaded tax. His Church. ungrateful. to cover up criminal practices. dreams. charms. encouraged sinful behaviour? Have I been boastful or made fun of someone by mimicking his behaviour in an exaggerated way? Have I insulted anyone or hurt their feelings? Have I lied to hurt anyone. without desire to make amends. inattentive or a distraction at Mass? Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin or without observing the one-hour fast? Have I gone for confession without real sorrow. unwilling to forgive. mediums. forged checks and invoices. annoying or ridiculing others? Have I been envious. by word or thought.THE EXAMINATION OF YOUR CONSCIENCE Have I disregarded. lazy and opposed to the love of God? Have I failed to read the Bible. critical. abused food. gratitude. sarcastic. economical and political position to protect rights and make changes that uphold justice and seek the good of others? Have I neglected to help the poor and needy? Have I indulged in gossip. revengeful and plain lazy? Have I entertained lustful desires or indulged in pornography? Have I committed impure acts or practised masturbation? Have I engaged in pre-marital sex or cohabitating? Have I taken part in or encouraged homosexual behaviour? Have I dressed or spoken suggestively? Have I taken things without consent? Have I deliberately retained borrowed. proud. angry. spoken behind someone’s back. teachers. He is trustworthy and upright. politeness or silence. So that He will forgive our sins.g. just obedience and assistance to elders. sacred people and things. And will cleanse us from all evil” 1 John 1:9 . feng-shui. lukewarm. reproach or defiance? Have I used God’s name for magic. spent excessively and wastefully? Have vandalised public property? Have I thrown rubbish away improperly? Have I bought and made illegal duplication of copyrighted materials e. interpretation of omens. things and places? Have I bought or sold spiritual things? Have I lived atheistically. tarot cards. clairvoyance. palm-reading. social class. submission and worship? Have I believed in or venerated other deities other than the one true God? Have I let other people and things take the first place in my life? Have I believed in horoscopes. employers and public authority? Have I paid taxes. left early. fortune-telling. judgmental. objections or anxieties about the faith? Have I held and spread opinions that are opposite of what the Church teaches? Have I been reading materials that have caused me to doubt? Have I by despair ceased to hope for my salvation. with hatred. refused or hesitated to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief? Have I harboured doubt. for grace and for the forgiveness of my sins? Have I been presumptuous on my own goodness to save me or thought to obtain forgiveness without conversion? Have I been indifferent. by excess. godly persons. stolen or lost items and money? Have I engaged in business fraud. consented to it or advised anyone to do so? Have I attempted suicide? Have I scandalously led another to do evil? Have I. exercised my right to vote and to defend my country? Have I had an abortion. pray. alcohol and tobacco? Do I drive at reckless speed? Have I abused drugs or encouraged others to do so? Have I joined gangs or taken part in street-fights? Have I been unable to forgive myself and accept my physical appearance? Have I looked down on others because of their race. paid unjust wages and raised prices to take advantage of the ignorance and hardship of others? Have I rashly gambled or engaged in price manipulation? Have I taken or accepted bribes? Have I taken company items for personal use? Have I done poor work. know Him more and serve His Church? Have I doubted God’s existence or failed to acknowledge him in respect. been irreverent.
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