Friedrich Wessely on Confession IV (3)

(See: introductory poststatic page)

(Examination of Conscience continued:)

If we see that our attitude toward Confession is lukewarm, than we should ask ourselves whether there is any part of our lives in which we are really zealous out of love of God. We shall find to our astonishment that we nowhere have true zeal, or that if there is some work to which we devote ourselves with all our strength, that our motive in it is not purely supernatural. Thus we find that a lukewarm attitude towards Confession is a sign that we are generally lukewarm in our spiritual lives. This can be a wake up call to us. And if we heed this call we shall find that the converse is also true: as soon as we arise and attempt some work purely out of love of God we shall find the desire for the purification of the Sacrament of Confession awake again in our hearts.

There are some persons who find the examination of conscience difficult because they are shy and timid, and have difficulty finding the right way of describing their sins. Perhaps they have had embarrassing experiences of Confessions. Perhaps their confessors told them that they did not confess well, that they confessed mere imperfections not sins, but that the validity of the Sacrament depends on the penitent confessing actual sin. Perhaps this was well-meant advice, or perhaps not; perhaps this advice proceeded from the false assumption that penitents are able to describe their interior state accurately, and perhaps the fact was overlooked that often expressions which seem to indicate mere imperfections actually imply sins. Perhaps such imperfect expressions ought to have shown the confessors that the penitents were unable to see their interior state and recognize their sins, and that they were thus in need of gentle help. But it matters little whether a penitent was embarrassed through just or unjust criticism; one ought not to allow oneself to be deterred from the Sacrament by embarrassing experiences. After all, one does not confess in order to satisfy the priest, but rather in order to receive forgiveness from God. One ought not to worry about what the confessor will think; one must try to overcome the fear of man in all things.

(to be continued)

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