Sunday, August 3, 2014

Confession Survival Guide - SHARE - 6 Reasons to Go to Confession

CBCP Release: Fr. Francis Ongkingco
SURVIVAL kit pamphlets for almost anything in life are one of the hottest selling items in your nearest bookstore. There are such kits for board and bar exams, outdoor activities, corporate presentations and more. Despite the easy and fast service offered by ‘St. Google,’ we are still inclined to have something at hand to quickly consult for answers.
But a survival kit for confession? Doesn’t that sound strange? Aren’t kits for helping one hurdle some insurmountable test or challenging activity? How could there be such a kit for something as harmless as confession?
True, but I’m thinking more of an aid that could help people overcome their excuses, fear, and shame for NOT going to confession. Here’s a list –definitely not exhaustive– of the possible reasons that people may use to either not to confess or to delay it.
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#1: A Direct line to God. We often hear the casual saying, ‘Surely, couldn’t I confess directly to God who truly knows my sinful heart?’
Reply: Every prayer to God in some way is a form of confession, but don’t we often want our prayers to be heard and above all answered? In the Old Testament, God already showed the need for intermediaries like the prophet Nathan who revealed to David his sin and this led him to repent before God.
#2: The sinner priest. As in #1, many would make the additional defensive remark, “Why should I confess to someone who is also a sinner?
Reply: As explained in #1, God chooses who His ‘grace-heralds’ are. Some are worthy and others—sadly—are not. But this only goes to show two important lessons: (1) God is still the source of forgiveness, and channels it through whomever He sees fit; (2) the quality of the instrument further demonstrates that God is really behind the person, and this fact even invites the penitent to greater faith in God and sorrow for his sins.
#3: Self medicating. A more stubborn stance can occur when one chooses
not to seek any help at all but one’s personal resources.
Reply: Spiritual self-medication has some advantages. For a spiritually healthy individual, choosing to outdo himself and seeking new ways to grow in his spiritual life is edifying. But in the case of the spiritually less-healthy, the maxim ‘if symptoms persist, consult your Doctor (God)’ applies. Any attempt for such individuals to ‘self-medicate’ would be tantamount to their lack of sincerity to find a real and effective cure to their defects and resulting vices.
#4: Till I’m ready! Others delay confession, stating they are not yet ready, that is, they still lack the adequate sorrow for sins they want to confess. A similar stance is expressed in saying, “I’ll go when I’m truly sorry.”
Reply: In reality, no one is really ready in the sense that readiness of a person’s conscience is not weighed by how he feels (the danger of falling into sentimentality) about his faults. Nothing else can give one spiritual readiness, since only God can forgive sins, other than Confession when the required sorrow is demonstrated by promptly turning to the sacrament, with due preparation, and the resolution to amend for one’s sins.
#5. When I don’t sin anymore or I may fall again. These sound like sincere expressions of one’s remorse and may indeed present good grounds to delay going to the sacrament.
Reply: They, however, reveal an unrealistic knowledge of our human condition: man’s nature is one wounded by sin. Thus, as long as we live we will be sinners. God is not one who wants us sinless, but sorrowful children and walking heaven-bound with their eyes set upon occasions of grace and an ever-growing trust in their Father’s mercy.
#6. Anyway, there’s confession… I’m going anyway… so I can sin now and more.
Reply: These reveal a distorted idea of confession and reduce it to a spiritual washing machine. Moreover, such a mentality belittles God’s mercy and maliciously contrives not to really cut oneself from his sinfulness.
One way to overcome this vicious obstacle to God’s forgiving grace is to sincerely pray to God for one’s sins, cut off the occasions of sin, carry out some penance, go to confession and sincerely express these devious ideas to the confessor. Such a sincere approach will gradually soften a callous conscience and make it more receptive to grace.
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“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt. 16)” (Shared from CBCP - Image source Google)
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