25 March 2013

Confession: an expression of God's mercy

I came across this short video today on the website of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. It shows how our sins affect others, in this instance within the family.

This note appears under the video.

'As the Family Goes' video by filmmaker Johanna Osborne, inspired by Pope John Paul II:

'As the family goes, 
so goes the nation 
and so goes the whole world 
in which we live.' John Paul II.

In the texts below you will find my [emphasis] and [comments].

The Church's basic teaching on this sacrament is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,Nos 1422 - 1498.

1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present.

Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.

It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."

It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother." 

The Second and Third Precepts of the Church from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos 2041 and 2042.

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept (“You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. [In this context 'Easter season' is usually interpreted broadly to mean from Ash Wednesday to Trinity Sunday.]

Christ and the adulteress, Pieter Aertsen, 1557-78 (Web Gallery of Art)

Is Pieter Aertsen suggesting that we put Jesus in the background because we 'have more important things to do'?

Pope Francis on asking Jesus for forgiveness (homily during Mass in St Anne's parish church, Vatican City, 17 March):

Think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: he associates with sinners! (cf. Mk 2:16). He comes for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee, before the altar, who said: I thank you Lord, that I am not like other men, and especially not like the one at the door, like that publican (cf. Lk 18:11-12), then we do not know the Lord’s heart, and we will never have the joy of experiencing this mercy! It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! "Oh, Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!" "Why, what have you done?" "Oh, I am a great sinner!" "All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!" He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (Jn 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation . . .  Let us go back to the Lord. [Pope Francis is referring to the Sacrament of Confession.] The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace

Fr Michael Depcik OSFS, a Deaf priest in the USA, on how often we should go to confession.

Act of Contrition

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.

The above is perhaps the best known Act of Contrition in English. We pray this after telling our sins in confession and receiving our penance from the priest. Sometimes he gives us absolution while we are praying this, sometimes he waits till we are finished.

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of (the Living) God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner.

This very ancient prayer may also be used as an act of contrition.

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