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Re: The Importance of Confession

J.M.J.

“... As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you ... Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” ... John 20:21-23

July 22, 2011
Saint Mary Magdalen

Dear Friend of Our Lady,

It is quite likely you have heard Protestants, and even baptized Catholics who have fallen into Protestant error, speak negatively about the Sacrament of Confession.

One of the more common of the negative statements made regarding this wonderful Sacrament is: “Why would I go to a man to forgive my sins when I can go directly to Jesus?”

Our Lord’s words in the Gospel, as noted above, should be sufficient reason. To reject Our Lord’s words is to reject Him.

Certainly as soon as one commits a sin and has sorrow for that sin, one should immediately express one’s sorrow to Our Lord and ask Him for forgiveness.

As Jesus told us in the Bible, we, by ourselves can do nothing pleasing to God. That is why we should ask Our Lady’s intercession — begging Her to pray to Her Divine Son for us to get and to cooperate with all the graces we need in order to obtain forgiveness from Her Son Jesus.

It is always better to ask for God’s graces and blessings through the intercession of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Children understand this well. When they have done something wrong, knowing they will be punished by their father, they often appeal to their mother to speak to their father in the hope that she will have the effect of softening the punishment.

However after asking for forgiveness, it is still recommended that one confess the sin to a priest and if it is a mortal sin then it must absolutely be confessed to a priest in the Sacrament of Confession.

It is God’s Will. He gave that power to His priests as His words clearly demonstrate. Our Lord will forgive mortal sins when we meet Him in the Confessional.

As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “The minister to whom Confession is made is the delegate of Christ, Who is the Judge of the living and the dead.” Even though the Catholic Church teaches it is only mortal sins that we must confess in Confession, it is recommended that one also confess venial sins.

Going to Confession isn’t just about forgiveness. In His goodness Almighty God also gives special graces attached to this particular sacrament that help us to avoid further sin.

The Saints understood the importance of Confession. Saint Joan of Arc went to Confession almost daily.

On July 13, 1917, the third apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, She showed the three child seers — Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco — a vision of hell.

Immediately after the vision of hell She reminded us that war is a punishment for sin when She told the children:

“You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end [World War I], but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI.”

The first thing suggested when one is trying to cease offending God and amend one’s life is to make a good examination of conscience in preparation for Confession, followed by making a good Confession.

This allows us to start new with a clean soul. And having been given the graces that come with the Sacrament of Confession, it prepares us to do battle with the devil, the flesh and the world in resisting temptations to sin.

Our Lady of Fatima also reinforced Church teaching on the Sacrament of Confession by establishing it as one of the requirements for making the Five First Saturdays Communion of Reparation to Her Immaculate Heart.

To make the Five First Saturdays one has to go to Confession for five consecutive months. By making that a condition, Our Lady is teaching us to avail ourselves of this Sacrament at least once a month.

Enclosed with this letter is a booklet entitled An Examination of Conscience for Adults.

In the booklet various sins are listed in the form of questions. The questions are specific for sins committed against each of the Ten Commandments, which are also listed in the booklet.

This booklet is designed to help the Catholic who is preparing for Confession. It is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

It is quite likely that many Catholics are not aware of many of the sins listed in the booklet as being sins.

Also enclosed with this letter is a leaflet entitled The Ten Commandments.

Given the lack of widespread practice of this necessary Sacrament, we encourage you to help our brother and sister Catholics by passing on copies of the above two items in the hope it will remind them that Confession is necessary.

For more copies of these items, call us at 1-800-845-3047.

Featured Literature for August and September

Just a reminder of some of what Our Lady’s Apostolate has available for special dates in August and September:

    August 22, Traditional Feast of the Immaculate Heart
    • Booklet, The Enthronement of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, BT021 (also
    available in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian).
    • Portraits of the Two Hearts, suitable for framing, LF152AA.
    • Acts of Consecration to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts prayers, LF152BB (also available in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian).

    September 15, Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin
    • Leaflet, The Devotion of the Seven Sorrows, LF119 (also available in Spanish).
    • Prayer card, Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows, LF111.
    • Booklet, The Devotion of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, BT020.

    September 23, Feast of Saint Padre Pio
    • Leaflet, Prayers and Words of Saint Padre Pio, LF109.
    • Prayer card, Saint Padre Pio, LF105.

    September 29, Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel
    • Leaflet, Prayer to Saint Michael, from the Raccolta, LF043.
    • Prayer card, Prayer to Saint Michael, LF133 (also available in Spanish).
    • Bookmark, with prayers to Saint Michael, LF246.
    • Reprint, The Story of Michael, I011.

    For copies of any of the above-mentioned literature, call us at 1-800-845-3047.

    In the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts,

    Joanna Swords

    P.S.

    Before sending this letter to you, I asked a friend to read it. He suggested I add the following.

    To better explain why the confession of our sins to a priest is not just the teaching of men but of Jesus Christ Himself, let us look at the words of Jesus at the beginning of this letter.

    How can the apostles, the bishops and the priests forgive or not forgive (i.e. retain) if they do not first know what the sins are: and they cannot know to forgive or retain if they do not know the dispositions of the penitent: thus confession, that is the act of telling our sins to the priest, is necessary by the Divine Command of Jesus.

    That is why the confession to a Catholic priest of all known mortal sins is necessary. Unless one is unable to speak or communicate or unless it is impossible to do so, Confession is necessary.