Sense of Life. Articles in English. The miracle of absolution.
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The miracle of absolution

Jesus is always with us, even when we deliberately and willfully reject His love — when, like the prodigal son, we seek complete autonomy — freedom from God and His commandments. He is with us, for He loves us unconditionally. He is always at hand, ready to pick us up, to free us from enslavement to Satan and bring us from a state of spiritual death to the joy of Resurrection.

A miracle greater than creation itself

Every mortal sin is a catastrophic event for the soul, for, in effect, it is the death of the soul. On our own we are powerless to free ourselves from this dire situation. Our only recourse is to turn to Divine Mercy. It is only through God that, “Though your sins be like scarlet [in ancient times, scarlet was an indelible dye], they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

Restoring the soul to its pristine state, freeing it from the tyranny of sin is only possible thanks to God’s special intervention. Christ knows our human weakness and how prone we are to sin. It is for this very reason that, right after His Resurrection, He instituted the Sacrament of Penance, when, turning to his disciples, He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (Jn 20: 21-23). This is the antidote to sin, which He intended for our use.

The Sacrament of Penance (administered by the priest in the confessional) is a visible sign of the unseen presence of Christ — the Christ who lovingly awaits the return of his prodigal children. Absolution of sins “is a miracle greater than creation itself” — observed St, Augustine.

So too Jesus spoke to St. Faustina: “To avail yourself of this miracle, there is no need to go on a long pilgrimage or perform a public ceremony; just come in faith to the feet of My representative, confess your wretchedness to him, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully manifested. Though a soul be like a decaying corpse, so that from the human point of view there is no hope of reparation and everything is lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores the repentant soul to full life. How wretched are those who fail to take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late!” (Diary, 1448).

Overcoming fear of confession

The reluctance we feel about going to confession comes from Satan. First he tempts us to sin, then he fills us with a groundless fear that makes us loath to admit our fault. We conceal our offense, gloss it over, or we avoid confession altogether. The Evil One tries to distort our image of God; but God’s true image is revealed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. How does the father react upon seeing his lost son? “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him” (Lk 15: 20). So too, Christ is deeply moved and rejoices when we make a sincere and earnest confession. Is their any reason, then, to fear meeting God, who stands ready to bestow upon every sinner the gift of His love and mercy? When we make our confession, we are with Christ Himself. He is only too eager to help us regain a clean heart: “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I am the One who is waiting for you there. I am only hidden by the priest, but it is I who act in your soul. Here the wretchedness of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that it is only with the vessel of trust that souls draw graces from this font of mercy. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. My grace pours over humble souls in torrents. The proud remain always poor and wretched, because My grace turns away from them in favor of humble souls” (Diary, 1602).

Examining conscience and contrition for sins

Before going to confession, you need first to examine your conscience. How?

• First, in a frank and personal prayer, place yourself before Jesus in the naked light of truth. Ask yourself the most important question. Do you wish Jesus to be your one Lord and Master, your greatest love? If you are not prepared to place your life and yourself at His complete disposal, you will not come to grips with the major cause of your sins.

• Consider how often and what kind of sins you have committed since your last confession. Do not forget the sins of omission. At the same time, do not focus unduly on yourself, but rather on the love of Christ, who suffered so much on account of your sins.

• Express sincere sorrow for your sins, which have caused Jesus so many wounds. Ask for His forgiveness, vow to work on yourself, and take concrete action to make amends for the evil committed.

Every priest hearing confession acts in persona Christi — in the person of Christ. Remember, it is Jesus Christ Himself whom we encounter in confession. The act of sincerely confessing our sins stirs us to action; spurs us on to better ourselves. This in turn gives Jesus a way into our hearts, that He may complete the miracle of forgiveness. This is the miracle of the “new creation” — the restoration of all that sin has destroyed and deformed in us.

Jesus wants nothing more than to free us from evil and restore joy and freedom to our souls. He is ever “on call” in the Sacrament of Penance. All He needs to free us from sin and grant us the joy of Resurrection is our freely given consent. And so, after committing a mortal sin, let us not delay in going to confession. The state of mortal sin brings with it appalling destruction — the poisoning of our spiritual life and our relations with others. This is the real ecological catastrophe. It is the cause of our greatest afflictions and tragedies.

So let us not fear to go to confession upon committing a serious sin. Jesus wants to help us to transform our hearts: “My mercy pursues sinners along all their paths. My Heart rejoices when they come back to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart. I rejoice at their return….Tell sinners that I wait for them always, that I listen intently to their hearts as they beat for Me. Tell them that I speak to them in their troubled consciences, in their failures and sufferings, in the upheavals of their lives, in the voice of the Church. And if they bring all My graces to naught, I grow angry with them. I leave them to their own devices and grant them their desires” (Diary, 1728).

Fr. Mieczysław Piotrowski SChr

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in June 2016.

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