Pope Francis on Confession

04-07-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It was nice to see so many people take time to be with Jesus during last week's 24 Hours for the Lord. I made a holy hour between midnight and 1 AM – and counted about 15 other people who remained in the Church for that hour. Even more came in and out for brief visits with our precious Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Spending quiet time like that with Jesus is such a beautiful thing to do!

Believe it or not, next Sunday is Palm Sunday – which means that Lent is almost over! If you have not yet been to Confession this Lent, please do so this Saturday. Fr. Leo and I will be in the Confessionals this Saturday from 9:00-9:30 AM and 3:15 – 4:15 PM. If those times don't work, you can call one of us for an appointment.

Right now, I'd like to share some answers that Pope Francis gave to people who asked him questions about Confession.

Why do we have to go to Confession? "When I go to Confession, it is in order to be healed - to heal my soul, to heal my heart, and to be healed of some wrongdoing."

But why do we have to Confess to a priest? "First, forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves. I cannot say: I forgive my sins. Forgiveness is asked of another, and in Confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus."

Then why can't I just ask Jesus privately to forgive my sins – without going to a priest in Confession? "Because our sins are committed not only against God, but also against our brothers and sisters and against the Church. That is why it is necessary to ask pardon of the Church in the person of the priest."

But I feel ashamed when I tell my sins to the priest. Why would Jesus want me to feel ashamed?
"It is healthy to feel a little shame. When a person feels no shame, we say they are 'shameless'. Shame does some good because it makes us more humble."

Reflecting on the pope's words, I think his comment about our sins affecting not only God, but also our neighbors and the Church are especially important. Many of our sins are committed against other people (lies, gossip, anger, impatience, etc. – not to mention the good deeds we don't do for others). All of our sins weaken the Church – because the Church is ultimately the sum total of her members. When one of us sins, the Church is less holy. Just as each of our good works builds up the Church, each of our sins weakens her. Hence the priest, representing not only Christ, but also His Church, forgives us in the name of God and His Church.

If it's been a while since you've been to Confession, and you aren't sure what to do, just ask me and I'll be happy to help you. I'm sure any of our priests would say the same thing.

Please say a Hail Mary for me today and every day – and be assured of my prayers for you.

Have a great week! Fr. John