CASTILLO: Confession - Frequent encounters with Christ
April 9, 2019
It is very common for good people to come to me and say, “I don’t feel very close to God, and I don’t know what to do.” My first response is usually to ask, “How long has it been since your last Confession?”
It is true that in the spiritual life we might go through some times of dryness where God, for our own purification, will let us go a time without “feeling” his tenderness, but it is also very common that we don’t feel close to God because we aren’t actually close to God. One often overlooked practice is frequenting the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
If we are not in the state of grace, because of some grave sin that we have committed, we are actually are as far from God as possible. He never moved, but we have turned our backs on Him completely, and we should go to Confession as soon as possible in order to experience the joy of forgiveness and reconciliation with our Lord and His Church.
However, I want to encourage you to go to Confession regularly, even if you are in the state of grace. Contrary to popular belief, the Church encourages us to go to Confession frequently and regularly even when there is no mortal sin. All of the recent popes, as well as the Catechism of the Church, encourage us to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even if it is just to confess our everyday faults.
“Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit” (CCC 1458).
How frequent is frequent? There isn’t a mathematical equation, but the former Prefect of the Discipline of the Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze, recommended at the very least once a month. The most important thing is that you make the Sacrament a regular practice. Get on a schedule.
We forget that the Sacrament of Confession is a Sacrament of healing. When we sin, it is not just like a tally mark against us.
Sin wounds the soul. When we have the habit of committing the same sin, often that is called a vice. Frequent confession means frequently examining ourselves, frequently going to the Divine Physician, frequently getting our wounds bandaged, and frequently getting the grace to overcome the vices that we can’t seem to overcome on our own. Confession is in many ways like a second Baptism. At Baptism we renounce Satan, and we accept Jesus and His Mercy.
If you have children, I encourage you to also get them on a schedule of confession. Young people who have the habit of confession will be holy young people. When tough times come their way and if they get caught up in some sin, they will already have the good habit of looking to Jesus and his Church for healing.
Never have I known a person after making a good and heartfelt confession who did not leave feeling just how close God really was. So I ask, “How long has it been since you confessed your sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?”
Gabriel Castillo is the coordinator of Youth Ministry and Faith Formation at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land.