The following text is a retreat given to “Couples for Christ”. The topic for the Retreat was on the Sacrament of Confession. Hopefully, though the grace of God and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope, these points and reflections will help you to appreciate more this Sacrament of God’s mercy and have frequent recourse to it as an infinite source of grace, peace and healing. The second reflection is points on how to make a Holy Hour. The primary focus is that Jesus is indeed your “Best Friend” as exemplified in the story of the movie of “Marcellino, Pan y vino”—The Miracle of Marcellinus. May your prayer life skyrocket!
1 GIFT TO JESUS FOR LENT: St. Jerome and Child Jesus.
2. SIN OF CENTURY: LOSSS OF THE SENSE OF SIN. Cardinal Tim Dolan’s pastoral letter: from altar to the confessional: priest complained because sent to a new parish and nobody would want to go to confession for months. Wanted to be transferred to parish where there were sinners! ***Image of the room and various views of it… Cardinal Newman’s analogy of the dust entering the room almost unawares.
3. SACRAMENTAL EFFECT: HEALING. Jesus healed the paralytic: 1st his soul and then his body. USA/ in general give more importance to body over soul: bath. Shower, junk, poison, house on fire, beauty parlor(did not work!), health-spas, nail in foot. Confession is like going to the Doctor! Can be preventive medicine or healing! ***Once was about to get a cold and took AIRBORN. Got over the initial symptoms of the flu. So confession can serve as Preventive med. To avoid falling. If fall, to bounce back! Leprosy! ****Father Damian worked with the lepers and his biggest suffering was his inability to go to confession.***
4. DEVIL’S TRICK: FEAR AND PROCRASTINATE. Story of young man and the cat.****. C.S. Lewis and the consultation with the other devils on how to capture and damn souls--- Do it tomorrow… Neri and the devil blocking the confessional! Before sinning he takes away all of our fear; afterward he fills us with fear to the point of paralyzing us!
5. MARY. Beg Mary for the grace to make a good confession in lent in preparation for Easter. It is always a “Lazarus experience”. (Jn 11) Rising from the tomb! Confession we celebrate the Paschal Mystery! Die to sin as to rise to new life in Christ! Marian sanctuaries are indeed spiritual clinics. (Pope JPII). My experience in OLF/ San V, then in the Basilica of OLG Mexico. Mary prays for us to be healed so that we can heal others. ****Concept of Nouwen—the wounded healer. Either we wound others or heal them!
PRACTICAL STEPS TO MAKE A GOOD CONFESSION.
1. TRUST! Doctrine of the Diary of St. Faustina. The greatest attribute of Jesus is His MERCY. The greatest sinners can be the greatest saints if they simply trust God. They have a right to His Mercy. Examples in the Bible of sinners who became saints: Magdalene, Zacheus, Matthew, Peter, and the Good thief!
2. PREPARE! 90% of the confession is preparing! Good idea to do it the night before! Pray to Mary and Holy Spirit. Have a good examination of conscience. Read and examine carefully.
3. WRITE. Easy to forget and get “Alzheimer’s” especially when we are nervous! Number of mortal sins ###
4. HAVE IMAGES: D.M AND MARY AND CROSS! Cross= see what sin did to Jesus. D.M= trust in His mercy. Mary= Mother of mercy.
5. ATTRITION= Gift of the Holy Spirit: fear of the Lord
6. AVOID NEAR OCCASION OF SIN. He who plays with fire will get burnt. Examples: drinking buddies…. Gossipers…. Internet porn… Must make a firm purpose to avoid any person, place or thing that could lead to falling into sin!
7. CONTRITION= perfect sorrow which is love of the Lord. ****Call to mind, as a mother, when you got angry at your child and yelled at him/her as a child. Saw the look on the face. This is what we have done to God. Say Act of Contrition before entering the confessional. For Protestants, yes we do 1st confess to God.
8. BEFORE ENTERING, PRAY FOR PRIEST! Experience in the life of St. Faustina and her not praying for the priest. Recognize that the priest represents Jesus. Catechism of Jesus and priest in the confessional!***Scott Hahn’s defense of this point with his sickness/bronchitis and the doctor who did it all wrong himself, but gave his patient the right medicine and he was healed!
9. CLOSE THE DOOR! ***Behind or face to face! ****Vicky story….Fr. Anton Story in Lourdes…no priest was in the confessional!
10.Recognize that confession is not a counseling session but an encounter with Jesus the Healer. Jesus loves us and truly wants to heal us!
11. You start with the sign of the cross and tell the priest when it was since your last confession. The priest, the spiritual doctor, can be helped by this information! You have your own doctor and can have your own confessor, who gets to know the state of your soul!
12. AVOID the following: ‘Buts”—trying to justify, rationalize, soft-coat it. Use as an example David’s repentance after sinning with Bathsheba and killing Urias, Psalm 51, the Miserere. David blamed nobody other than himself. We can easily blame our wife, mother-in-law and not assume the responsibility for our actions. This diminishes the efficacy of the confession. Speak clearly!
13.BE humble(means the truth), be transparent--- not cloudy or ambiguous; be sincere and honest.
14.NUMBER # OF MORTAL SINS. This is required by Canon Law.
15. HELD BACK SINS BEFORE MARRIAGE. Probably should make a general confession because it was bad due to shame. HELL STORY!!! Scott Hahn story. Now is the moment of grace.
16. ACT OF CONTRITION AND ABSOLUTION. What beautiful and consoling words!
17. THE PENANCE. Not a bad idea to do double the penance; this is a sign of good will on the part of the penitent.
18. POWERFUL IMAGE; MOVIE OF THE MISSION. Brother killed brother and penance was to carry a huge weight with a chain. After doing this for long while, as the penitent was climbing up the mountain toward the Iguaza falls, the priest cut the rope and the man was freed of the penance and forgiven sin. Sin is w weigh but Jesus forgives us!
19. PRINCIPLE OF GRAUDUALITY. Cross in the city of Cordoba. Jesus’ hand is detached from the wall and forgives. Gradually we can leave our sins with the grace of God and with our good will!
20.CALL TO PENANCE: to repair for our past sins. ****Story of boy with tantrum, the nails in the post and the nails pulled out of the post. Sins leave residual marks that have to be gradually erased!
21. STORY OF JPII and the priest who had fallen into disgrace. A beautiful rendition of “The Prodigal Son”.
22.Story of Pedrita…. Message: God will always forgive the sinner, no matter how serious his sin if he simply repents and has trust in God!
23.Fr. Tim’s story of the girl with the psychological problems and the confession and the miracle that the psychologist noticed! Reader’s Digest story; Protestants had more suicides that Catholics. The Reason! Catholics have confession and they do not!
24.LUSTIGER’S STORY OF CONVERSION. The joke! Crucifix on the wall; Tell Him you are sorry for having nailed Him to the cross!
25. PARENTS AND FAMILY! Up to you to provide opportunity to go to confession for your kids. Hahn. Should be done at least once a month.
26.FATHER’S ROLE! Doug and Radix. May the father take the lead in being the spiritual leader of the family. 1st He should go to confession; take his family and encourage. ***Teen in Confirmation crossing arms at Mass! Bad sign! Take the family to confession Monday then Mass and Rosary and then celebrate! Pollo Loco!
HOLY HOUR; LOVE FOR THE EUCHARIST:
1. FAITH! Renew your faith in the “Real-Presence”. A good genuflection!
2. FRIENDSHIP. Called to deep friendship with Jesus. He really wants to be your friend. At the Last Supper, He called them “Friends”.
3. EXAMPLE: Movie of “Marcellino Pan Y vino. Take the steps of this little boy as a model of how we are called to deep friendship with Jesus.
a) DESIRE. To be with Jesus. Friends really want to spend time together. Friends seek union. Aristotle says that friendship as based on commonality of interests. We should interest ourselves in what truly interests Jesus.
b) GET TO KNOW! They exchanged information on their lives. You! Talk to Jesus and tell him who you are, your background, what has gone on in your life. He is truly interested in you. As we read in Peter: “Cast your cares on Him because He cares about you… Come to me all.. (mt 11)
c) CONSOLE HIM. Often we think only of ourselves; we should think about Him and how to console Him.
d) ACTION. Love Jesus in words, but also try to love Him in actions! Marcellino saw the suffering Jesus and tried to alleviate the suffering. He saw Him naked and cold and surrendered and sacrificed his blanket for Jesus and had to suffer the cold. Hungry- the little boy snuck into the kitchen to abscond with bread to give the many with bones and ribs jutting out to feed the hungry. Thirsty- He gave him wine to drink. Marcellino, Pan y vino…;
e) ALLEVIATE THE SUFFERING. Took the crown off His head. He could not bear to see Jesus suffering the cruel thorns through his brow.
f) YOUR SECRET SUFFERING/PROBLEM. Often we are afraid to open up and reveal our deepest yearning or suffering, not even to those closest to us for fear of not being understood or hurt! But this should not be the case with Jesus. He is “The world’s greatest lover”. He knows us even better than we know ourselves. We can talk to us and He is a very attentive listener. Right now, there is problem something that is weighing on you, heavy on your mind, heart or soul. Open up and tell the Lord!
g) MARY AS MOTHER. Given that the little boy was an orphan only living in the midst of Franciscan friars, he really never experienced the love, care, concern and tenderness of a loving mother. So he asks Jesus if he had a mother and how she was! Jesus responded kindly. To make a long story short, the little boy asked Jesus if he could be taken up with her to see her, to love her, to be with her forever. The request was granted! The dramatic story ends with the little boy dying but really to live forever with Mary in heaven! Therefore, for us, it is key to ask Mary to be with us to enter into dialogue with Jesus.
h) FRIENDSHIP IN PRAYER! All of this points to the simple fact: prayer is really FRIENDSHIP WITH JESUS. The classical definition of prayer from St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church on prayer is simply this: “Prayer is nothing other than spending a long time in silence, talking—at length—with the friend that I know loves me…” While in Argentina, one of the first lines I learned in Spanish was, seeing a beautiful image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, JESUS EL AMIGO QUE NUNCA FALLA….
i) St. Teresa recommends contemplating the HUMANITY OF CHRIST! This is one of the greatest prayer means to contact with Christ as Friend!
OTHER METHOD: ACRONYM A.C.T.S
A= ADORATION! Take the 3 kings as your models (Mt. 2)
C=CONTRITION! King David and His repentance as model(Psalm 51)
T= THANKSGIVING Take the ten lepers/the one leper that came back to give thanks to Jesus (Lk. 17)
S= SUPPLICATION Take the persistent widow in the parable against the corrupt judge as example. (Luke 18)/ or The Canaanite woman who pleads for the healing of her daughter and her insistence.
BEST MODEL :JESUS IN THE GARDEN of OLIVES( Lk.22)
FRUITS OF EUCHARIST ADORATION:
2. PEACE of heart and mind and soul
4. Greater awareness outside of time of prayer.
6. Lights outside the context of prayer
9. Heaven. Augustine: “He who prays well, lives well; he who lives well, dies well; and he who dies well, all is well! Living out our Principle and Foundation! Those who are in heaven it is for the simple reason that they learned how to pray well during the course of their lives. No better thing in the world than for parents to teach their children to pray. Children are human SPONGES!
10. MARY’S JOY= In seeing us love her Son Jesus!