Spiritual Reading for Easter Thursday ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

CONFESSION

III. — CONTRITION.

In the second place, sorrow is necessary; this is the principal condition necessary for obtaining the pardon of sins. The most sorrowful, not the longest Confessions, are the best. The proof of a good Confession is found, says St. Gregory, not in the multitude of the words of the penitent, but in true compunction of heart. But let those who go frequently to Confession, and abhor even venial faults, banish all doubts regarding the sincerity of their sorrow. Some are troubled because they do not feel sorrow; they wish to shed tears, and to feel a tender sorrow every time they receive the Sacrament of Penance; and, because with all their efforts they are unable to excite this tender sorrow, they feel always uneasy about their Confessions. But you must be persuaded that true sorrow consists not in feeling it, but in wishing for it. All the merit of virtue is in the will; hence, speaking of the Virtue of Faith, Gerson has said that sometimes a person who wishes to believe has more merit than another who believes. Speaking of sorrow, St. Thomas says that the essential sorrow necessary for Confession is a displeasure at having committed sin; and this sorrow is not in the sensitive part of the soul, but in the will; for sensible sorrow is an effect of the displeasure of the will, which effect we are not always able to produce, because the inferior part does not always follow and obey the superior part of the soul. Whenever the will is displeased, above all things, at having committed sin, the Confession is a good one.

Be careful to abstain from forced efforts to excite sensible sorrow. Remember that, with regard to interior acts, the best are those that we perform with the least violence, and with the greatest sweetness; for the Holy Ghost ordereth all things sweetly and peacefully (Wis. 1). Hence the holy penitent Ezechias said of the sorrow that he felt for his sins: Behold in peace is my bitterness most bitter (Is. xxxviii. 17). He felt great sorrow, but it was accompanied with peace.

When you wish to receive absolution, be careful in your preparation for Confession, first to ask of Jesus Christ, and of the sorrowful Mother Mary, a true sorrow for your sins. Make afterwards, as has been already said, a short examination of conscience, and then as to the sorrow, it is enough for you to say with sincerity:

My God, I love Thee above all things; I hope, through the Blood of Jesus Christ, for the pardon of all my sins, for which I am sorry with my whole heart, because by them I have offended and displeased Thine infinite Goodness; I abhor them above every evil, and I unite my abhorrence of them to the abhorrence that Jesus had for them in the Garden of Gethsemani. I purpose, with Thy grace, never more to offend Thee.

And as often as you have sincerely wished to make these acts, go in peace to receive absolution, without fear or scruple. St. Teresa gave another excellent means of removing anxiety about sorrow for sins. “See,” said the Saint, “whether you have a sincere purpose not to commit the sins that you confess; if you have, doubt not that you also have true sorrow.”

Leave a Reply