“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained,’” (Jn 20:22-23).
The bumper-sticker read, “What’s the least I can do and still get to Heaven?” After my initial chuckle, I reflected on that statement and realized that a lot of us approach our spiritual lives with the same minimalistic attitude. I remembered Fr. Larry Richards during the Men’s Conference quoting Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” (Mt 7:13-14). Fr. Larry was speaking on the need to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession as a surefire way to encounter the Mercy of God and attain sanctity.
On September 23, the Church celebrated the feast of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio was a Capuchin priest who spend most hours of his days hearing Confession. People flocked to Padre Pio’s confessional from all over Italy, and eventually from all over the world after his reputation spread. It has been said that Padre Pio had the gift of reading souls, and would frequently remind penitents of unconfessed sins during Reconciliation.
Fr. Larry reminded us during the talk that we are all saved by God’s Grace, and not by what works we perform. Confession is an encounter with Jesus Christ, and it is Jesus who forgives our sins and heals us during the sacrament. “Every sin is a communal sin gentlemen,” Fr. Larry said. For that reason, confessing our sins to a priest, not only reconciles us with God, but also with the community because the priest also represents the Church.
Fr. Larry went over all the Commandments during the talk as a tool to help us examine our conscience prior to going to Confession. Father said that most men struggle against sexual sins, or sins against the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not commit adultery. Fr. Larry emphatically said the reason we struggle with the same sins over and over again is because we focus on ourselves and not in Jesus Christ. “Christianity is about forgetfulness of self. Get out of the way and let Christ live your life in you and through you!”
The late John Paul II used to say that if a person goes to Confession once a month, that person would become a saint. Padre Pio took it a step further and invited all believers to go to Confession at least once a week. Padre Pio would say, “Even if a room is closed, it is necessary to dust it after a week.”
St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.
Let’s ponder: Do we take our salvation seriously or are we minimalistic about it? Do we have a holy Fear of God and ask for His Mercy regularly in the Sacrament of Confession?
Let us Pray:
Come, Holy Spirit,
and fill my heart with Your gifts.
Let my love be true and my
charity be generous.
Help me in all my needs,
and grant me knowledge
to do what is right.
Advise me in my doubts,
strengthen me when I am tempted
and console me when I am afraid.
Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour Your light into
my heart, mind and soul.
Help me to live a holy life
and grow in goodness and grace.