Friday, April 28, 2017

Three Defects That Render Most Confessions Useless

By Father Juan Manuel Rodríguez de la Rosa

Dear brothers, I wish to speak to you of three defects which make most Confessions useless, if not sacrilegious; the lack of light in the examination of conscience, that is, the blindness in our sins; second, the lack of sincerity in manifesting them, and finally, a real lack of true sorrow, of true repentance.

Lack of light in the examination of conscience

The main disadvantage that man has is the lack of self-knowledge, which is a great obstacle to Confession; and the reason for this is that we do not examine ourselves with sufficient maturity and time; that when we examine ourselves we do it mostly about our personal concerns, and that we seldom examine our obligations.

The examination of our acts should be constant. Our life should be a continuous examination and censorship of our actions, desires and thoughts. But it is inconstancy that prevails in us, disordered desires in our hearts, as well as envy, fears, hopes, joys, sorrows, hatred and love, and in this way all these passions turn our heart into an abyss difficult to probe and of which we never see more than the surface.

A continuous vigilance on all of our actions is very necessary in order to be able to make a good Confession. This continuous vigilance is what adequately prepares us for a good Confession. It is necessary to get used to continually take into account our actions, to examine our heart in those moments of calm and silence of the day, which are the most appropriate for it. How important is the daily examination, at the end of the day, to present our soul to the Lord in our hands, to think about His presence, the use we have made of the day that has passed. Thus, with these daily examinations of our conscience we become acquainted, so to speak, with ourselves, and we prepare to take to the confessional a proven heart and a thousand times examined sins.

The brief examination of conscience that many do before Confession is not enough. If we are sincere we will accept the reality, that for many their life is full of continuous forgetfulness of oneself, of pleasures and personal care; a continuous fleeing of oneself, to avoid reflecting on one's own life and state. Never will the light enlighten their hearts to know its true reality. Here is the first great defect of Confessions: not to spend the necessary time for a correct examination; only the short time before Confession. Every day should be an examination for it.

The reality is that the examination of conscience is usually done rather according to the concerns of our self-esteem. We examine our own concerns. What does it mean to examine ourselves? It is to put on one side the Commandments of God, and on the other the part of our life that has not kept them; to see in each of our actions what the Gospel commands, allows or prohibits, and compare it with our actions. But the truth is that in the examination of conscience these holy rules are replaced by the preoccupations of self-love.

Along with the above, another cause that renders Confession useless, is that many do not make an examination of conscience according to their obligations. Few do the examination under the light of faith and with the rules of the Gospel; everyone goes to Confession with their own concerns, rather than presenting their sins. It is necessary to confess our faults in the fulfillment of personal obligations, as a parent, or as a public person, etc. Many do not know more than their personal defects.

How many are those who live in that kind of life condemned by Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospels, and then have almost nothing to say in Confession?; they find it hard to accuse themselves of something sinful, and they reduce a long period of their life to a single instant, used to accuse themselves of the sins or faults committed in one day. But a righteous soul confesses, with the sorrow of its heart, its slight imperfections, and even in its virtues finds a matter of accusation and penance, and seems to never end talking about its weaknesses. Where does this difference between the two penitents come from? One watches continuously his heart, and the other does not examine himself until the moment of going to Confession. One judges himself in the light of faith, and the other with the concerns of his self-love. One knows all his obligations and reflects on them; the other examines himself only about some palpable and known obligations, of which he ignores their extent and consequences

Lack of sincerity in manifesting sins

It is a great truth that many live their lives wearing a disguise and that they are never as they claim to be. They find it hard to confess themselves guilty. Confession makes them feel discovered in the farce of their life and feel that their false and vain image is disfigured. They wear their disguise even to Confession. They do not walk to God through the right path, and do not have the righteousness  and simplicity of heart that heals the wounds by discovering and revealing them.

The first defect of sincerity consists in not using clear expressions. To mix the sin with one’s own pride, to not fully manifest our conscience; to sin of lack of uprightness and sincerity. To not use clear expressions, to silence the motives and principles for which they sinned. It would be necessary to remind such penitents that they come to the tribunal of Jesus Christ who knows them very well, who is the invisible witness of all their actions and secret life; who reads the heart as an open book, and all the most shameful things hidden in it.

A second defect of sincerity consists in not saying the motives and principles of the actions carried out. Actions are said but not their motives; they talk about their sins, but not about the consequences. We must consider everything we do based on why we do it, and weigh our actions in our heart. The heart is the one who decides everything in man; but this heart is what some never discover in confession.

It happens that these penitents confess, for example, that they have spoken evil of their neighbor, but do not say that the reason was the envy they feel towards them; they confess their anger towards someone, but they say nothing of the frivolous and sinful actions that are the cause of that anger. In short, they do not say anything about the secret struggles that happen between the weakness of the flesh and the heart. It often happens in these cases, with these penitents, that most of the time it is the confessor who has to guess the state of their soul.

One last defect of the lack of sincerity lies in the dubious actions, which are always exposed in favor of the penitent. What happens, really, is that they do not want to break with personal passions, and in turn they want to have a clear conscience: In this state of infidelity, what is sought is a sentence in their own favor and for that they tell the facts in such a way so the confessor does not condemn them. They lack sincerity in the expressions they use, because they lessen them; in motives, because they do not say them; in doubts, because they are exposed to their own favor. They always talk about themselves with a false appearance, hiding their reality and manifesting what they would like to be; they manifest a conscious that is actually false. In this way, it is impossible for them to feel the relief that feels the soul that is truly sorry, the peace of the soul, the calmness of conscience, which in the end are the fruits of a sincere and perfect Confession.

Lack of sorrow and true repentance

Sorrow is the soul and truth of confession. The above mentioned, being important, are no more than external dispositions of Penance. Contrition is a movement of the grace of God and not of nature. It is necessary to grow in the penitent a true detestation of sin, a true inner sorrow produced by the action of the Spirit that enlightens the penitent with the light of the faith so that he discovers in his sin the offense committed to God and the misfortunes that derive of sin. In turn, this sorrow must be the beginning of a new and sincere love that makes him hate sin.

Most penitents go to Confession feeling the disturbance of their self-love in which the Holy Spirit has no part. They feel the embarrassment and worry of confessing their sins, rather than sorrow for having offended God. They mistake their pride with repentance; the discomfort they feel for having to go to Confession with the sincere repentance that is necessary for it; they mistake the inconvenience of Confession with sorrow of their sins. They are proud and confused and instead they think they are motivated and penitent.

True sorrow of sin involves a sincere resolution to put an end to the disorders that lead to sin, and to begin a holy and blameless life. The question of Jesus Christ to the sick: Do you want to be healed? may seem useless, because that is what the patient wants. But not everyone wants to heal from the sickness in their souls. When the penitent goes to Confession, he must witness to himself that he really and truly wishes to heal; that is, that he wants to renounce his passions and follow the path of piety. Consciousness cannot deceive itself, and knows very well if the purpose of a new life is true; the preludes of a conversion and a sincere renewal of customs have their own manifestations that leave no room for doubt.

Dear brothers, these are the most common principles that make the Sacrament of Penance useless. We lack light in the examination of conscience, sincerity in manifesting sins and sorrow in repentance. Let us enter into ourselves, let us remember before God our whole life and the secret history of our conscience. Let us review the number of confessions made, many repeated and many useless. Today's passions in the soul are the sores of childhood that have aged with oneself. Today many are as sensual, proud and dissolute as in the beginning of their life. Nothing has changed, nor have his repeated Confessions succeeded; because they were useless Confessions. Life has carried them from one place to another, but their shameful passion has followed them wherever they went.

Will we say? My life is a continual sin that varies only by the different states and circumstances. God forbid! We know what to do to avoid it.

Hail Purest Mary.

Source: Adelante la fe

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