Going to Confession is one of the greatest sources of grace available to us in our Catholic faith. In this Sacrament, the Holy Spirit continues to work in us through conversion and forgiveness. We are enabled to grow in self-knowledge and humility. We begin to see our selfish habits with greater clarity, making it possible for us to correct them and root out sin. We purify our consciences, strengthen our wills, receive the grace to resist temptation, and advance in the spiritual life.
For these reasons, and many others, the Catholic Church takes this sacrament very seriously. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asks faithful Catholics in the United States to go to Confession at least once during Lent and once during Advent, but it’s worth considering going once every month or two. I always tell my spiritual directees that it’s like going to the doctors – write it down on your calendar – and of course, sometimes things will come up, but then set another time to go. If you’re married, go with your spouse, that way you hold each other accountable. Consider going as a family. If we only go to Confession once a year we will miss out on profound graces, and lose track of many transgressions, making it harder for us to
recognize our patterns of sin.
What Jesus told St. Faustina About Confession
Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.
Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary, 1602)
Sometimes people will come into the confessional and say they don’t know what to say. In part, I believe that’s because people often don’t prepare for the Sacrament. But a good place to start is with the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth. These sins blind us not only to the nature of the good, but to our own good, and to the good of others. It’s so easy to rationalize away our sins. When we do this, all we accomplish is deceive ourselves as to our need for God. Rationalizing away our sins is a very dangerous sign of spiritual decay. Has it been a long time since you’ve been to the Sacrament of Confession? Be courageous! Remember God’s great mercy. Remember how weak and frail we are and that we desperately need God.
A Prayer for the Courage to Return to Confession
Lord, You know how much I need You. You know my sinful nature
and my weaknesses. You know my sincere but imperfect desire to love
You and others better. I know that I cannot return to the grace of God
except through You and Your sacrifice on the Cross, and through
the font of grace that is Confession.
Help me to give You everything, even the ugliness of my sins, as I
return to You in Confession. Help me never to despair because Your
Divine Mercy and Your infinite love are my greatest hope and
treasure. Help me see this as an opportunity to love You, grow
in my love for You, and offer all my love to You.
I place my trust in Your infinite love and mercy, and I ask You for the
courage to help me return to the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus, I
trust in You. Amen.