In an earlier article we had enumerated ten wonderful fruits of those who have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Sacrament of God’s mercy.
In the Diary of Mercy in my soul, Jesus spoke to St. Faustina Kowlaska, as well as the whole world about the greatness of His mercy, and often about His mercy related to the Sacrament of Confession. For the Feast of Divine Mercy--- the Sunday after Easter--- Jesus promised an extraordinary grace for those who trust in His Divine mercy, but especially related to the Sacrament of Confession. Let us read and meditate attentively to this promise that Jesus offers to you and me!
On one occasion, I heard these words: “My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though his sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from My very most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of my Mercy.” ( Diary of Mercy to Saint Faustina # 699)
These words should move the very depths of our soul to place total, limitless trust in Jesus, the King of Mercy, especially in drawing close to the Sacrament of His Mercy, the Sacrament of Confession, and thereby receive mercy and grace beyond telling! We will continue to enumerate more graces that descend upon the soul who has frequent recourse to confession!
1. PRAYER DEPTH. With peace of soul and clarity of conscience the heart and soul of the one who trusts in God’s mercy through confession, has opened the window of his life to a divine invasion of prayer. Jesus, in the Beatitudes expressed this clearly: “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8). A heart, made pure through sacramental confession can hear God’s voice more clearly and contemplate His face with greater clarity!
2. COMPASSIONATE HEART TOWARDS OTHERS. An honest and sincere penitent, having fallen many times and being forgiven as many, cultivates a more compassionate, merciful and forgiving attitude towards the rest of sinful humanity. Why? For the simple reason that all of the sins that others have committed, we can all commit, if it were not for the grace of God! St. Philip Neri, on seeing a bum stated: “There go I save the grace of God!”
3. PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. The Sacrament of Confession has as its specific sacramental grace that of healing the wounds contracted by sin. Confession—by means of a medical comparison—can either be used as “Curative medicine” or “preventive medicine”. Once I felt a cold descending upon me! Immediately, I had recourse to “Airborne!”—a medicine with a high concentration of Vitamin C! Long story short, the cold was avoided! Therefore, frequent confession with a good preparation and firm purpose of amendment can actually help to prevent a huge fall—that of mortal sin! Better preventing the broken leg, than to break it and go through the long process of healing and the aftereffects! For that reason, women are encouraged to pursue mammograms: better to prevent breast cancer, then to have it!
4. JOY! Sin destroys joy in the soul! In reality, sin is the antithesis of joy! The Holy Spirit gives us the 7 Gifts and if we correspond to the Gifts then the fruits on the tree are many and one of these is JOY! Many people have sad faces, long looks, cemetery countenances, vinegar looks! All is related to the sin residing in the recesses of the soul! The reality and knowledge of God’s mercy and forgiveness results in an overflowing joy of heart, mind and soul. The Parable of the Prodigal Son/Merciful Father resounds with the “Joy” of the Banquet offered to the Prodigal son forgiven and welcomed home! The Father said to the elder son, “We have to rejoice, because he was lost and has been found; he was dead and has returned to life.” (Lk. 15).
5. SHIELD AND PROTECTION FROM THE ATTACKS OF THE DEVIL. Once forgiven, Jesus gives further graces to fight the good fight, to run the good race so as to win the victory and receive the reward of the champion. The spiritual life is a constant combat--- St. Ignatius and the two standards! Through Confession, the Lord bestows on his soldier the spiritual armor ammunition, shield to ward off better the fiery darts and bullets of the devil who is like a roaring lion seeking to devour the naïve and innocent! The Blood of Jesus, given in Confession, serves as a powerful shield!
6. MORE FRUITFUL HOLY COMMUNIONS: CLEAR WINDOW PANE. A window pane that has been sprayed, rubbed with a newspaper and polished becomes transparent. The sunlight can pass through this window fully; whereas a dirty window, partially opaque, blocks a good part of the sunlight. Jesus, the Light of the world, works in the same way in the souls that He visits. A black soul, stained by Mortal sin, He enters with disgust; a dirty soul, He enters but somewhat reluctantly; however, a pure and humble soul He rushes in with abundance and joy. For this reason, a soul cleansed by the Blood of Jesus through confession, prepares a worthy and joyful entrance to the Eucharistic Lord!
7. THE CHURCH REJOICES AND IS SANCTIFIED. The poet Wordsworth penned the line: “No one is an island unto himself.” When an individual sins, then the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, suffers due to that one sin. On the other hand, when a member of the Church does well, the whole church is sanctified. St. Therese the Little Flower stated that we either lift the church up to heaven by our good actions or pull it down by our bad actions. A good confession elevates the Church closer to heaven!
8. GOOD EXAMPLE. It is not rare that a good example pulls others into following suit. I remember once as a child, my fear to go to confession—a paralyzing fear. But then something happened: a family member went to confession and came out smiling. That joy of the smile from the confession of my family member broke the ice for me and I made a good confession, and have been going to confession frequently ever since!
9. VICES ARE WEAKENED AND VIRTUES STRENGTHENED. The grace of the Sacrament of Confession works to weaken the power of sin and vice in our soul and to strengthen virtues. Falling again into the same sin should not dishearten us. The principle of graduality teaches us that often we cannot overcome sin immediately! It takes time, effort, and above all grace in abundance! Frequent confession serves to diminish the frequency of sin as well as to diminish the gravity of sin. In the life of St. Mary of Egypt--- who lived a life of great sexual disorder—after her conversion, it took her close to the same number of years to conquer the sin that she practiced for so many years! Patience! Jesus said that by your patience you will save your souls!
10. ACCOUNTABILITY. In groups like A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) and other support groups, that help to overcome addictions, accountability is a key aspect to overcome the bad habit. Likewise, frequent confession with the same confessor can profit immensely, knowing that we must render an account to our confessor for our actions. When tempted, the concept of accountability can serve to prevent the fall! But even more so we must recognize that when we die we must render an account to God for what we have done and what we have failed to do! “We will reap in the end what we have sown in our lives!”
In summary: OUR LADY OF DIVINE MERCY. Pope John Paul II called Marian Sanctuaries “Spiritual clinics”. Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, are the most famous Marian shrines in the world. Our Lady appeared in person, asking for a church to be built and for this reason—to bring Jesus to others and others to Jesus. How? In particular, through the Sacramental life. The life-giving graces flow to the souls of others, the life of Jesus Himself, through the Mass and the Eucharist, but also through the healing graces of the Sacrament of Confession. What Mary desires most is to glorify her Son Jesus. She proclaimed in her Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Through the sacraments Jesus is truly received, souls are purified and sanctified, Jesus rejoices in heaven and likewise Mary His Mother. Let us all rejoice in God’s goodness, love and His Infinite mercy. Our Lady of Divine Mercy: pray for us and for the whole world!