Confession II

Adapted by Eric Valles from William G. Most and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

I. Spiritual formation: Confession

A. Doctrine

1. We often screw up, as it were, bigtime. If we don’t come clean about our transgressions, these may come back to haunt us. Take the dramatic case of ex-National Kidney Foundation CEO T.T. Durai, who has been sentenced to a three-month jail term, is close to bankruptcy and who seems to have lost almost all self-respect. He could have averted his current situation if he had owned up to his extravagant lifestyle and not filed a lawsuit against the one who had exposed his wrongdoings. He did not avail of timely confession.

2. Jesus rights our wrongs, even our utter failures. He cures ailments, spiritual first before the bodily. The paralytic who was lowered through the roof had his sins forgiven first before he was made well. Jesus proved divine forgiveness by effecting that cure. But we need to be remorseful as a condition for receiving divine help. Only then can we truly mean it when we say “Father, please bless me for I have sinned.”

3. Jesus continues to cure spiritual illnesses. He does so through the Church, in the power of the Holy Spirit all throughout the world. The Church strives to repair the original breach made by our first forebears.

4. Spiritual cures are carried out by ordained priests, the successors of Jesus' apostles, in HIs name. Jesus gave this power to the apostles (John 20:22-23). He said, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them.” The apostles had actual power to forgive, not to merely announce God would forgive.

B. Process of Doing It Well

Telling our sins, at least mortal ones.

1. In the “Didache,” dating perhaps to about 140 AD, the early Christians practiced confession as described in this way:

(14: 1): “On the Lord’s day, they gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so your sacrifice may be pure.” This echoes liturgical confession: “Lord, have mercy.”

2. In the “Epistle of Pope Clement I,” written around 95AD (51:1): “It is good for a man to confess his failings rather than to harden his heart.”

C. Freedom: We are free to confess to any legitimate priest who has been given the authority to hear confessions.

II. Plan of Life: General Examination (Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life)

A. Definition: the act of stock-taking of our prayer, mortifications, work, fraternity, apostolate, holy purity and faith. This is akin to the reflection that progressive management theorists talk about. Reflection is an indispensable tool in the improvement of performance.

B. Kinds: “The general examination is a weapon of defense (shield)…. The particular is of attack (sword).” In your particular examination, you have to go straight toward the acquisition of a virtue.

C. Process

1. Examine your behavior throughout the day (what you did)

2. For every good thing that you remember, thank God for it. This is a confirmation of the virtues and how we fare against the standards of sanctity that God has set for us. For every wrong or omission, ask pardon. Resolve to confess it at the first opportunity and to make amendment for it. Unlike work evaluation in offices, this examination does not require much preparation. The tools we need are presence of God, humility and sincerity.

3. Resolve to give yourself more fully to God. Identify specific areas for improvement for the following day.

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