Friedrich Wessely on Confession IV (4)


(See: introductory poststatic page)

(Examination of Conscience continued:)

The Invocation of the Holy Spirit

All instructions on Confession agree that one ought to begin the examination of conscience by calling the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete to one’s aid. This helps us to see the vital point that we must examine our consciences with our hearts full of faith. We must try to look on ourselves as it were with God’s eyes. God knows the graces that He has abundantly sowed in our hearts that they might bear fruit, that they might conform us every more clearly to the image of His Son. The Son of God desires to be able to recognize in us friends and brothers. The Holy Spirit has filled us with His gifts that in our daily work we might ever more become instruments of His love. If one realizes this then one will see how far short of the ideal one falls. Even if one confesses regularly one will see how numerous were the sins of omissions one committed, how many graces one squandered, how bitterly (in human terms) one’s conduct must have disappointed God. The saints wept bitter tears over their sinfulness. They did not do so out of unhealthy exaggeration, but out of a deep knowledge of their souls, a bright light helped them to see their own unworthiness. If we ask Him, God will give this light to us as well.

(to be continued)

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. Continue reading

Friedrich Wessely on Confession IV (2)

(See: introductory poststatic page)

2. Proximate Preparation

a) Examination of Conscience

General Remarks

For many persons examining their conscience is almost a form of torture. They are possessed by the fear that they will not detect all their faults, or they tie their minds into knots trying to weigh the exact degree of gravity of each sin. They do not think themselves able to make a good Confession unless they have attained perfect clarity about their interior state. But what is the point of all this worry? Continue reading

Friedrich Wessely on Confession III

(See: introductory poststatic page)


In order to receive the Sacrament of Penance fruitfully it is necessary to fulfill carefully all that belongs to the essence of the Sacrament as well as those things that have always been recommended by the teaching of the Church. These consist principally in a good preparation, the confession of one’s sins, and the fulfillment of one’s penance.

Preparation for confession can be further divided into proximate preparation (preparation in the strict sense) and remote preparation.

Proximate preparation includes the examination of conscience, which ought to begin with an invocation of the Holy Spirit; contrition for sins committed; and finally the resolution not to commit those sins again and to convert one’s life.

Remote preparation includes everything that can be done by the penitent to give himself comprehensive knowledge of his sins, to deepen his contrition, and to strengthen his resolution.

It is necessary to fulfill these precepts and councils carefully in order to receive the Sacrament of Penance fruitfully. But when we say that care is necessary we do not mean that we ought to be filled with worry and fear. We must rather be confident in the knowledge that the Church, like a good mother, teaches us these things in order that we might progress toward God as quickly as possible, that our souls might expand and develop ever more richly, and that the peace of God might entirely fill our hearts.

We begin with a consideration of the preparation for Confession.

Friedrich Wessely on Confession I

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. Continue reading