Skip to comments.Archbishop Sheen Today! -- Frequent Confession (Part One)
Posted on 03/24/2005 2:51:14 PM PST by CHARLITE
The question is asked, "Why does Pope John Paul II, and the Popes before him, strongly urge the use of Frequent Confession when Church Law does not mention this practice?"
It is true that the second precept of 'The Six Precepts of the Church,'  as well as Canon Law, teach that Catholics shall confess their sins at least once a year.
However, John Paul II and the Popes before him specifically teach the importance of frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession for mortal as well as venial sins.  The reason is clear. There is clearly a crisis of Confession.
This crisis is caused by a loss of the sense of sin found in our Western culture that relativizes moral norms. As our sins wound not only our own souls but also the mystical body of Christ, we are therefore urged to go to Confession frequently as a safeguard against Satan.
Importantly, the church strictly insists that, except for grave reason, one must confess their grave sin before receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist. 
We should have recourse to frequent Confession to cleanse our soul from venial sins, which weaken one's rectitude, and any sins of omissions that would indicate a lack of love for God.
Love for frequent Confession of one's sins is the road that leads to refinement of soul and to sanctity, the sure remedy to lukewarmness. Even the pagans recognized the reality of "divine" moral laws that have "always" existed and which are written in the depths of the human heart. 
Frequent Confession is the 'school' that formed the great saints before us.  Here is what St. Augustine wrote:
"Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made . . .. When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light." 
Listen to what Pope Pius XII, who went to the Sacrament of Confession every day, said:
"For a constant and speedy advancement in the path of virtue, we highly recommend the pious practice of frequent confession, introduced by the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for by this means we grow in a true knowledge of ourselves and in Christian humility, bad habits are uprooted, spiritual negligence and apathy are prevented, the conscience is purified and the will strengthened, salutary spiritual direction is obtained, and grace is increased by the efficacy of the sacrament itself." 
Pope John Paul II, who frequents the Sacrament of Confession on a weekly basis, recently said:
"We live in a society that seems to have lost the sense of God and of sin. Christ's invitation to conversion is all the more urgent. 
"It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation. Those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives." 
Few words have given Catholics more peace and joy in their lives than to hear their Priest pronounce, "I absolve you from your sins." 
St. Augustine said, "It is thanks to the medicine of Confession that the experience of sin does not degenerate into despair." 
Through the Sacrament of Confession, with true sorrow for our sins and a firm purpose of amendment, we obtain graces needed to fight the defects in our character, which are the cause of our discouragement and despondency.
St. Francis de Sales mentions that "it is an abuse to confess a sin in confession unless one's mind is made up to avoid it in future or at least to strive earnestly against it." 
Bring someone with you to the Sacrament of Confession this week. Scripture tell us, "My brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (Js 5: 19-20)
Cor contritum et humilitatum, Deus, non despicies! 
Here, below, is a popular Bishop Sheen vignette on this very subject of Confession and how to overcome despondency.
Click on link & scroll down to read Bishop Sheen vignette on Confession.
(Watch for Part Two next week)
I love Bishop Sheen - and I'm always nagging my pastors for more Confession hours. I had to make an appointment for my kids and me this week.