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February 10th, 2013

20 Tips For A Good Confession

20 Tips For A Good Confession

Here are 20 tips for a good Confession:

1) Examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) Wait our turn in line patiently;
3) Come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) Speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) State our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) Confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) Listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) Confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) Carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) Use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) Never be afraid to say something “embarrassing”… just say it;
12) Never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) Never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) Never confess “tendencies” or “struggles”… just sins;
15) Never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) Memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) Answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) Ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) Keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) Remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

Read more about confession.

December 18th, 2012

The Healing Power of Confession

The healing power of confession

I was surprised to see this couple, the leaders of a large prayer group in the Archdiocese of Bombay, who had been knocking at my door early that morning at the retreat house in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. On my blank refusal to leave my 200 retreatants and accompany them to the hospital, they began to plead their case.

Their son Joseph was sick and had been undergoing medical treatment at home. But after two weeks of medication he was not getting any better. Their family doctor finally acknowledged that he could do nothing more. He was not even able to diagnose the precise nature of his sickness, which baffled him. He recommended him to be admitted to this renowned hospital, where he would be under the care of the topmost specialists of the city. But here too, after he had gone through every diagnostic testing and been administered all kinds of medicine for a further two weeks, those eminent doctors owned up that they too could do nothing more. They too were unable to diagnose the young man’s illness and hence did not know how to treat him.

After coming to know all this, Joseph felt so disheartened and dejected that he told his parents, “I must see Fr. Rufus today.” I made it clear to them, when they approached me, that I could not absent myself from the retreat even for a short time. But they kept coming back again and again, saying that their son would not take no for an answer, and pleading that I come to the hospital – however late the hour.

I finally consented to come at the end of the day’s program, at about 10.30 pm. Seeing him in the ICU (intensive care unit) surrounded by all those sophisticated medical apparatus, I deduced that he must be very, very sick, and that is why he had called for me. But when I asked him, “What do you want? Why did you call me?” he answered to my great astonishment, “I want to make my confession!”

I was taken aback at first by this unusual request, since I had assumed that he had wanted me to come and pray over him for healing. Then I grew somewhat infuriated that he had dragged me all the way from the retreat in Bandra, instead of arranging for a priest in the parish where the hospital was situated to come and hear his routine confession. But on second thoughts, I cooled down and said to myself, “Perhaps, that is what he wants, and more important, what he needs.” And when he made his confession – it was a sincere and thorough confession of his whole life – I knew then that that was what he needed and therefore wanted.

My son, your sins are forgiven

I was about to leave his ICU private room, when there suddenly flashed into my mind the Gospel narrative of the healing of the paralyzed man. Whenever I refer to this Gospel incident during a retreat, I make it a point to ask the participants, “What did Jesus first say to the paralyzed man?” The unanimous answer I receive everywhere is, “Your sins are forgiven!” To their disappointment and chagrin, I tell them that this answer is equally wrong! I repeat the question, and with bated breath they wait for my answer to my own question, “The first thing that Jesus told this sick helpless creature was, ‘MY SON’.” And after a pause, I resume and tell them, “Then only did Jesus continue saying, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (Mk 2:1-12).

For even though Jesus knew that this man was burdened by sin and needed the experience of God’s forgiveness, he also knew that he was oppressed by in a way the greater burden of guilt and needed also the assurance of God’s forgiving love. For God has sent Jesus to save the world, and NOT to condemn it (Jn 3:17). Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

The miraculous healing power of Confession

It was therefore without the previous hesitation and with a new assurance that I returned to the sickbed. Looking up to heaven I prayed, “Lord, after you told the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’, you did not stop there; but you continued and said, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and go home’. Lord, you are the same: yesterday, today and forever. And so, in imitation of you, I am not going to stop after telling this modern paralytic, in your name and in the name of your church, ‘Your sins are forgiven’. I am going to continue and do what you did 2000 years ago, knowing fully well that what happened then will likewise happen now.”

I then looked down at the sick man and said, “Now that God has forgiven you your sins, I would like to pray for your physical healing too.”

It was his turn now to stare at me in surprise. He had not asked me to pray for healing before. Nor did he ask me to do so even now. It was I who took the initiative and made the suggestion. And after praying for some time, with his sister Jenny, a youth leader of the charismatic renewal in Bombay, I was so sure that what happened in the Gospel story then would happen even now, that I had the nerve to tell him, “Now move”. Before that he could not move his body, because of the intense pain. Now he moved. “Sit up”, I said. He sat up in his bed. “Get out of your bed.” He got out. “Bend over.” He bent over. “Walk about.” He walked about. Only I did not tell him, as Jesus did, “Take up your bed and go home.” For that was not his bed. And the next day he was discharged from the hospital.

How much more are we in the sight of God, our Father, his beloved sons and daughters first and only then sinners – and forgiven sinners at that. Jesus has indeed come not just to forgive our sins, but to free us from sin’s greatest consequence, the burden of guilt.

Joseph’s Testimony

About a year later, I happened to recognize Joseph as a participant of the retreat that I was giving at Vinayalaya Retreat House, Andheri, Mumbai. When at the end of my first day’s talk on God’s initiative of forgiving love and man’s response of repentance, I retold the above incident, I remarked in passing that the young man whose testimony I had related was present here for this retreat, and that if he wished to confirm or change, add to or subtract from what I had said, – he was free to do so.

He got up at once, came on to the platform and facing the audience who looked at him with a sort of wonder, said only one sentence: “When I honestly repented and humbly confessed my sins to God and the Church, with the full assurance of God’s forgiving love in the Sacrament of Confession, I knew deep within myself that I was already even physically healed. – Even now I feel that there was really no need of Father having prayed over me for a physical healing”.

It is therefore through our repentance that we open ourselves to God’s forgiveness, that brings with it the experience of the warm embrace of the Father crying out with out joy, ‘My son, my daughter, was dead and is now alive.

– – – written by Fr. Rufus Pereira

August 2nd, 2012

Satan Lives In Our Sins

Satan Lives In Our Sins

Sin is the root cause of all evils in human life. Even those that aimed at our sanctification points to the fact that we are imperfect. Heaven does not have suffering, for those who are there are perfect. Earthly life cannot be free from pains, as we ourselves are sinful and we live among the sinners. The shortcut to be free from suffering, is to be free from sin.

Apart from sin, any pain is bearable for the soul of a human being. Sin is contrary to the nature of our soul. So, the sins we do, willingly or unwillingly, choke the soul. If the soul is free from stains, then no amount of worldly pain can disturb its peace. That’s what we see in the suffering of Jesus, Mary and the saints. Our nature is hesitant to pain and suffering because we cherish the love for an easy life. Saints invited more and more sufferings into their life, because each and every moment they knew they are imperfect. And their conviction was that it is suffering that purifies them.

Sin Attracts Satan

Sin attracts Satan as a magnet attracts iron. It is in our sinful habits and inclinations that Satan puts his hand to disturb us. Like fish in the water Satan lives in our sins. So the easy way to put him out is to put out our sins.

One man was on his journey to conversion. He was a drunkard and happened to attend a retreat. After the retreat he thought of quitting the shabby world of drinking and live a holy life. But once it happened that he again failed and had his day at the bar. Approaching his spiritual director, he said; ‘Father, I was not willing to go to the bar. But Satan tempted me.’ Father corrected him; my dear child, do not succumb to his temptations each time he calls. Yes, father, I am well aware of that. But when he calls, if we refuse his call, it may happen that he may not call us again!

Yes, this is somewhat our problem. We enjoy the pleasure of sinning and like that Satan makes us fail. How many times we would have been dead, if we had made our act of contrition sincerely. There we say, we are ready to die than to sin. We sin again, and not die when temptations occur.

The Two Traps of Satan

When we face problems in our life, Satan brings two traps. They are concerned with adjusting our sight. Too close to our eyes we can’t see properly. For example a speck in our eyes, however close, is not visible. So is the case with an object too far. Likewise, Satan will make us over conscious of the problems so as to give them seriousness as they do not deserve it. Sometimes he will set our problems too far, as not make us aware of the true seriousness of our problems. It is important to adjust our sight with regard to the problems we face to live a happy life. Every problem in our life is not from Satan, but those that bring evil fruits are from him. It is important to know the tree from its fruit.

Read more at Body and Satan

Each time we fall, Satan laughs. When we wake up through a confession, he may come again with more strength. I would like to say that some people fall again because of their over zeal. This is right. Suppose we had been sick for many days and recovered through medicine. Right away if we go to work heavily, wouldn’t we get sick again, sometimes worse than before. So the doctors suggest that the patients recovered from illness should not go for hard work. They suggest us to recover our health first. This is important in our spiritual life too.

Suppose we fall into sin, when we recover, give more importance to getting back our strength through prayer and frequenting sacraments. After that, focus on our ministries and work fields.

Read about how to kill Satan

– – – written by Jinto Mathew

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