How will Confession help us better live our vocation?
We have come to the last part of our series on Confession. So far we have seen that Jesus had a purpose for instituting this Sacrament – our salvation. We have also seen that as with all sacraments, there is the form that it follows – verbal confession of our sins to a priest, the matter that is present – in confession it sincere contrition for sin, absolution by a priest, and completion of a penance and, the minister of the sacrament -- the priest. All of these things are essential to making a “good confession”, which is possible after doing a thorough examination of conscience through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
How can this help us in our vocation? First, understanding that we are not perfect, but that God wishes to perfect us is the place to start. Confession provides us with a second chance to make things right with God and our fellow man. It reconciles us with God and is a way to perfect ourselves, to make our best attempt at renewing and redoubling our efforts to humbly root out sin and vice.
As we enter into the grace of the sacrament, we have the responsibility to live the words of the Act of Contrition: to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. These words keep before us the reality of how easy it is to stray into sin and fall back into the same habits that we tend to confess over and over again. Choosing to embrace the grace received in the sacrament bolsters our resolve and helps, in a supernatural way, to keep Christ as our focus.
A saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi offers this, “go and spread the teachings of Christ and save souls, and if you have to, use words.” Our simple example of living a holy life, living our vocation in a way that is pleasing to God, sends a powerful and profound message to the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle. (CCC, 1496)
We cannot fight the Christian battle on our own -- we need the grace of God through confession to be ready. We need to be an example in the world of who God wants us to be by living out our vocation as Catholic men and women. This means frequent reception of not only the Sacrament of Confess but, all the sacraments.
Recognizing that Confession provides the grace necessary to live a sound Christian life as a model and example to others, we can thus see that when we are right with God, our prayer and our work is efficacious. The grace to be in closer relationship with God can only result in living our vocation better. When we can see our own failings clearly, determine to root them out and avoid committing them in the future, we grow in virtue. We will be more loving, kind, patient, courageous, zealous, etc. These virtues will increase as we grow in holiness through humbly confessing our sins and reforming our lives. Thus, our first duty to God should be this: to purge Satan from our hearts, and to be Christ’s disciple in all we do, so that all we do will be done for God's greater glory.
It is essential to remember this:
*There is objective truth -- right and wrong
*Appropriate guilt is not a bad thing, it's a wake up call from the soul
*Joy can be deeply known in receiving the forgiveness and mercy of God through the sacraments -- it's eternal life changing.
So go to confession -- go at least once a month. Bring God your failings and let Him heal you in this sacrament through His grace. A clean soul, refreshed in His forgiveness, is the key to fulfilling the mission of our vocations, as well as worthily receiving every other sacrament. The ultimate goal in our reception of Sacrament of Confession, as with reception of all the sacraments, is to hear Christ say to us at our judgment, “well done my good and faithful servant.” (Mt 25:21)
Have peaceful and fruitful Lent!