I have begun a translation of Friedrich’s Wessely’s pamphlet on Confession which I shall be using for a retreat that I am to give soon. Wessely’s pamphlet was given to me by my own confessor, and I have found it helpful indeed. I shall be posting each chapter separately as well as adding them to a static page.
The Rev. Friedrich Wessely (1901-1970) was a priest of the Archdiocese of Vienna and professor for Spirituality at the University of Vienna. He brought the Legion of Mary to Austria and was and inspired the founding of the Vienna Oratory.
Wessely begins his pamphlet on Confession by noting that while many are convinced of the efficacy of this Sacrament in leading us toward holiness, nevertheless their actual experience of frequent Confession is that they seem to make little or no progress; at each Confession they confess the same sins, and they cannot see that their last Confession has made them any holier.
Friedrich Wessely, Confession and Sanctification Originally published in German as “Die Beichte und der Fortschritt meiner Seele” (Imprimatur: Vienna, 1954)
I. CONFESSION AS A MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION
Confession is one of the most eminent means of our sanctification. We know that through Confession our sins are forgiven and we are restored to the state of grace. Or that if we have not lost the state of grace Confession increases the grace already in us. The increase of grace strengthens our ability to do good, and enables us to to approach the goal of our lives – conformity to Son of God – with ever greater strength.
Each man is called, as St Paul puts it, to be conformed to the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom 8:29); each in a particular way and to a particular degree. At the end of his life, whether it be long or short, each man ought to have realized this goal and thus be admitted to the beatific vision of God. Now Confession is not only one of the most effective means of remaining on the right path or returning to it when it has been lost— it is also enables one to progress along that path with such speed that at the end of one’s life one is really at the goal, and not in need of any purgation in the next life. It is of the first importance to keep in mind what goal God wills us to reach in this life; for only if we realize that holiness, union with God, perfect purity of heart is the ideal that we must try to realize in this life, will we see the true value of the means of sanctification and make full use of them.
So Confession is a significant help on the path to our sanctification, and the faithful consider it a great blessing and a necessary institution. Indeed there are scarcely any truly pious souls who do not consider the sacrament – even apart from its role in reconciling us with God – as a means of quickly approaching the goal of life. Nevertheless, there are perhaps few who can say from their own experience that Confession has helped them to a life of higher virtue. This is often a cause of great concern to them. They feel themselves at fault, but do not know how to increase the effect of this sacrament in their lives. Thus they often discouraged and are even tempted to give up the practice of frequent Confession. The present pamphlet is therefore intended as an aid to receiving the Sacrament of Penance as well and as fruitfully as possible.
(to be continued)