This Sunday we talked about Confession in preparation for the Penance Service happening Thursday March 14th beginning at 7:00pm. This Communual Service will open with some music, reading from the Bible, possibly a group Act of Contrition, and then reflective music will be performed while everyone has a chance for personal confessions to be heard by a variety of priests. This is a great event to attend to have the opportunity to go to confession, especially during this Lenten season.
Here is a bit of a recap of how to go to Confession and the “Why” behind confessing our sins to a priest:
How to Prepare: Examination of Conscience
In order to make a good confession, you want to take a good, hard look at your life, the sins you’ve committed, and the opportunities you missed to grow in holiness. This is called examining your conscience. There are a million different ways you can do this and it’s something hopefully that you do formally or informally every day (perhaps a nightly examen?!). Some people go through the ten commandments and see where they might have messed up. Others go through the seven deadly sins and can find their faults there. Others like to go through meditative questions to remember what sins they’ve committed. And, in this new modern era, you can even go through and do an examination of conscience using your smart phone!
Here are a few places you can go to find examination of consciences to help you!
Lifeteen Chosen Confirmation Examen (my favorite! only thing to note where it says “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…” it’s now more acceptable to say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…”)
Fathers of Mercy (English & Spanish)
Using the Seven Deadly Sins
JPII Center High School Examen
Apps to add to your phone:
And more: https://catholicapptitude.org/confession-apps/
Why can a priest forgive sins?
Here are some bullet point arguments for the priest forgiving our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
First, we point to the Scriptures for the basis…
Mt 9:2 Authority given to men to perform works in Jesus’ name
2 Cor. 5:17-20 Ambassadors for Christ
Jn. 20-19-23 Jesus breathes on the apostles “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”
James 5:16 Confess your sins to one another
It’s not the priest that forgives our sins, but Jesus. The priest sits “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) and by His authority and as His ambassador, forgives our sins. The priest also represents the community, because when we sin, it doesn’t just affect us, but the whole body of Christ.
We are commanded to confess our sins to a priest and there are great reasons:
- We receive the assurance of the words “I forgive you…” and aren’t left wondering
- It appeals to our senses as humans (to hear the words); it’s good for the soul!
- We can receive great spiritual direction from the priest
- We grow in humility
- We receive the graces we need to “go and sin no more”
We can talk with our Protestant brothers and sisters about it, noting that they accept the sacrament of baptism. We can explain that the same way that a minister (or priest) has been given the authority to baptize someone and remove original sin, a priest can also remove sins during the sacrament of confession. Those Protestants who seek baptism more than once have the right sentiment, but the wrong sacrament!
For more information, check out the following: