VI. — DELUSIONS AND VAIN FEARS.
Along with false shame, the devil endeavours to fill the mind of sinners with many delusions and vain fears.
Such a one says: My confessor will rebuke me severely if I tell this sin. Why should he rebuke you? Tell me, were you a confessor, would you speak harshly to a poor penitent who should come to manifest his miseries to you, in the hope of being raised up from his fallen state? How, then, can you imagine that a confessor, who is bound by his office to show charity to those that come to the tribunal of penance, should treat you with harshness and severity, if you confess your sin to him?
Another says: But the confessor will, at least, be shocked at my sin, and will conceive a dislike for me. All false! He will be edified when he sees the good disposition that makes a sinner confess his sins with sincerity, in spite of the shame that he feels. And will he not have heard from other penitents similar or perhaps more grievous sins? Oh, would to God that you were the only sinner in the world! Neither is it true that he will conceive a dislike for those that disclose their guilt to him; on the contrary, he will entertain a greater esteem for them, and will labour more zealously to assist them when he sees the confidence that they place in him, and that has made them reveal their miseries to him.
Alas! what do certain sinners say? I will go to Confession, but not till another confessor comes. And will they, for the sake of avoiding shame, live in the meantime at enmity with God? In danger of being lost forever, in an actual hell caused by the remorse of conscience that lacerates the soul, and that leaves them without peace night or day? And will they remain in sin, or add several sacrileges to the sin they have committed? Do they not know that sacrilege is a horrible Sin? Will they change into the poison of eternal death the remedy that Jesus Christ has prepared for them by His Blood, in the Sacrament of Penance? They say they will go to Confession afterwards. But what will become of them for eternity if they meet a sudden death, which is now so frequent that we hear almost every day that someone has died suddenly.
But, some one will say, I have not confidence in my confessor. Go then to another. But should a person not be able to procure a strange confessor, would it not be madness to conceal his sin? Were he afflicted with an ulcer that might cause death, would he not, if there were no other remedy, instantly call for a surgeon and, however great his shame, would he not make known his disease? And in order to recover the life of the soul and to escape hell a Christian cannot bring himself to open his conscience to a Spiritual Father.
You, then, should have courage, and generously conquer this shame that the devil magnifies so much in your mind. It will be enough to begin to reveal the sin that you have committed; all your vain apprehensions will instantly vanish. And you may be persuaded that after Confession you will feel more happy at having confessed your sins than if you were made monarch of all the earth. Recommend yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she will obtain for you strength to overcome all repugnance. And if you have not courage to disclose your sins at once to the confessor, say to him: Father, assist me, for I stand in need of help; I have committed a certain sin which I cannot bring myself to confess. The confessor will adopt an easy means of dragging from its den the wild beast that devours you. It will be enough for you to answer “yes” or “no” to his interrogations. Should a person be unwilling to tell his sin in words, he may write it on paper, and show it to the confessor, saying, “I accuse myself of this sin that you have read.” And, behold! the eternal and temporal hell has disappeared, the grace of God is recovered, and with it peace of conscience. The greater the violence a person does himself in order to conquer shame, the greater will be the affection with which God will embrace him. Father Paul Segneri the Younger relates that a certain person made such an effort to confess certain sins committed in her infancy that, in disclosing them to her confessor, she swooned away. But in return for the violence that she had done herself the Lord gave her such fervent compunction that thenceforward she gave herself up to a life of perfection and of great austerities, and died with the reputation of a Saint.