For the last month we have been advertising our Parish Mission which will begin this weekend (Sunday evening at 7-8 pm.) and run for four consecutive evenings as our Mission director, Fr. Paul Nicholson of the London, Ontario diocese, presents a one-hour talk each evening covering what is known in the Church as The Four Last Things: (and taxes ain’t one of them) Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Everyone on the face of the earth, save the Blessed Virgin Mary, experiences three of these four things as everyone will die, everyone will stand before the judgment of God, and everyone will either live forever in the blessedness of heaven or the pains of hell.
The purpose of a Mission is first of all to take time out of our everyday, work-a-day lives and stop to ponder the direction of our lives and where we are in relationship with Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of Reconciliation plays an important role in a Mission since it is the way back for Catholics into the love, mercy and relationship we have with Christ. Our own sin breaks that relationship.
The Holy Spirit works powerfully in a Parish Mission in that the Spirit will give us a sense of repentance, bring comfort to the needs in our lives and lead us all the more to follow Christ more closely.
Each evening Fr. Paul Nicholson will make himself available in the confessional following his 1-hour talk to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with those so moved to do so. Our parish will also fittingly make the opportunity to go to confession even more available by hosting our Parish Reconciliations (Confessions) on Thursday April 10th beginning at 7 pm. with several priests on hand to hear confessions.
A retreat deals more with an individual or group getting away to reflect, pray and be open to the voice and movement of the Holy Spirit. A Mission differs in that it offers a parish or group through a visiting, incoming priest, the possibility of prayer, openness and a listening ear and heart to what Christ is calling us to do in and with our lives.
HOW TO GO TO CONFESSION
Many Catholics today aren’t quite sure how to go about confessing their sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many may also not be aware that we must go to confession at least once a year and if it has been longer than that we should refrain from receiving the Eucharist until such time as we have made a good confession. The Church has not done a good job of instructing Catholics in the faith these last few generations and many have not been raised in the practice of Catholic faith.
As our Parish Mission is about to begin and will offer us the opportunity to go to confession following the preaching each evening, I thought it might be good to put out an aid to preparing and celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
1. PREPARATION. Preparation is key to making a good confession. Using an Examination of Conscience helps to remind us of the various sins we may have committed, particularly if it has been a long time since we last went to confession. In an Examination of Conscience various sins against the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church are placed before our minds. Sacred scripture tells us that even a just and good person sins “seven times a day”. Reviewing your sins and even writing them down on a piece of paper to take with you is a good way of remembering all of your reviewed sins you want the Good Lord to take away through His magnificent love and forgiveness.
2. CONFESSION. Confession should not be confused with counselling. You may be troubled by something that is going on in your life but it would be best to make an appointment with a priest to discuss that problem and seek advice. We want to also be mindful of others who might be waiting in line after us to go to confession.
We are to name our sins simply and give the frequency of times that we have committed that sin (to the best of our ability) which serves as an indicator of areas in our life we need to work on with the help and grace of God.
3. JUST THE FACTS It is not necessary to confess each sin in story form but to simply state our sin to the priest. A person who has just been to confession two weeks prior should not need to take eight minutes to confess a couple of sins. Yet a person who has not been to confession for many years can, if prepared through a worthy Examination of Conscience, confess all their sins in just a few minutes. God already knows our sins and is waiting in the Sacrament to meet us and forgive the sins we bring before Him through His priest.
4. FORGIVENESS There is nothing so bad that we could have done that God cannot forgive and that’s why we should confess everything. Properly prepared and disposed to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Good Lord Jesus will come to us with His forgiveness which will wipe away our sins and set us out on the road of life again, freed, renewed and forgiven.
As Sister Mary Jacqueline taught my grade one class so many years ago:
“When God forgives your sins, He takes them and He throws them into the ‘Sea of Forgetfulness’, and He puts up a sign that reads, “No Fishing”. (Fr. Charles)