Father, forgive me for I have sinned.
In following the example of the penitent Mary Magdalene whose feast we celebrate today, there is no greater way to be one with Christ than by placing ourself in the center of His Heart - the chamber of Divine Mercy - the Confessional.
"Each visit to the confessional is unique and clearly framed by the nature and extent of sin. The priest provides pertinent and hopefully profound meditative points based upon the nature and scope of one's sins. One not only feels relieved of sin's burden, as reflected in Psalm 32:3-5, but consequently closer to God and fortified for the continued battle against sin, one's nature, and the society, which plays on both. A good, traditional confession is a full meal of God's Divine Mercy, Redemption, and Forgiveness, which paves the way for reconciliation with Him. A poor, New Order confession is a fast-food snack of man-made, secular babble decorated in empty religious condiments which paves the way for greater sin and separation from a God, Who over time, becomes increasingly distant and unknown."
Much has been written about the New Order's continuing destruction of The Sacrifice of The Mass and The Sacrament of The Eucharist, but one must not forget the similar damage being done to our Sacrament of Confession. The nature and scope of this damage is not surprising given the New Order's view of sin, humility, respect, and general morality.
Humble Beneficiaries of God's Divine Mercy
Matthew 9:2-8 tells us that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins, and John 20:23 shows us that Jesus delegated that authority of forgiveness to priests. Traditional Catholic doctrine tells us that the Sacrament of Penance allows us to remove the chains of sin through God's Divine Mercy so that we may once again approach our Father and be pleasing in His sight. Notice that this is a three-step process. First, we must confess our sins to God Almighty as represented by the priest. Second, God will forgive us through His Divine Mercy if we are truly sorry. Third, through our confession and God's forgiveness of our sins we will be once again be reconciled with Our Heavenly Father.
When we confess our sins, we are putting these transgressions against our God on the table of sacrifice, offering them up as both symbolic of our human weakness and our faith and trust in God's ultimate mercy and justice. God Almighty accepts our humble and contrite offering for it honors Him as our Father to Whom we owe eternal love, obedience, respect, and continued loyalty. By honestly and humbly offering to God that with which we have offended Him, we are at once acknowledging both our wrong and Our Father's sovereignty over us.
We can take the example of today's saint The Magdalene who literally fell at the feet of our Lord to receive the first singular confession. Her soul was full of sin, but when Christ told her, as recorded in John 8: 11, "Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more." Then there is the account when she was forgiven again in Luke 7: 48, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Through the graces of the confessional, Mary Magdalene became one of the greatest and most beloved saints. So it matters not where we have been or what we are in life, it matters what we do with our life and how we account for it before God and then man.
It is only upon placing our total trust, faith, and offering to our God that we open the door for God's mercy and saving grace to wash away our sins and enable us to rebuild those bridges, which we have burned through our transgressions. It is that "rebuilding" that we call reconciliation, which is the second step in the process started by confession. Leviticus 16:21 tells us of the ancient Hebrew ritual whereby a live goat was chosen by lot, a high priest laid both hands on the head of the animal while confessing the sins of the people, and the goat was released into the wilderness, thereby symbolically carrying that collective sin away with him and purging the people of their sin. This practice is attributed as the origin of the term scapegoat, which has come to mean transferring one's guilt or blame unto another in order to relieve oneself of that burden. This term has become a negative term implying shifting blame for one's wrongs on an otherwise innocent third party. I think that traditional Catholic doctrine takes that ancient Hebrew practice one step further. We do not just shift our sins; we offer them up to our God whereby the harmful flame of sin turns into the smoke of incense honoring a just and merciful God. The key here is that this offering, this sacrifice, is based on the humble and honest confession of sins, which then enables God's Divine Mercy to transform that offering into a fit sacrifice. Through that Mercy, God turns the harm and evil of sin into the benefit and good of sacrifice, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Confession Allows For Reconciliation
Traditional Catholic thinking tells us that we must humbly and honestly approach our God to confess our sins and therefore receive the forgiveness possible through His Divine Mercy. It is only once we confess and Our God forgives that the third step, Reconciliation, is possible. In Reconciliation we are once again joined with our Father, purified of the stain of sin. New Order thinking, however, is busy cutting out the sin, the humility that sin necessitates, the confession that sin and humility mandate, and the forgiveness necessary where there has been sin. Deny the sin and you cut out the humility, the need to constantly improve and seek God. Cut out the humility and sin and you cut out the need to confess, since one need not confess when there is no sin and one cannot confess when there is no humility. Thus, the New Order merely hurdles both the sin and the need to confess that sin and turns the whole thing into Reconciliation, which is the "new" term for Confession. Under this term and its implications, one need not acknowledge sin or the need for forgiveness, but must merely "turn to God".
Although not every parish will put things in just that way, the change in terminology from Confession to Reconciliation is a very profound one with great implications. The New Order will tell us that we must focus on the positive, the good, the constructive nature of turning back to God and that the concept and term of Reconciliation does that. As Kevin Tierney has been pointing out in his eye-opening series Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi each week, the New Order does not want any part of "negative theology." Yet this "negative theology" is most necessary in the growth of grace and curbing our concupisence.
We hear priests tell us that it is not about hell, the devil, blame, and slapping wrists but more about love, peace, reaching out, not blaming, "dialoging". The concept of confession and sins is painted as unpleasant, negative, destructive, exclusionary, and divisive. The concept of reconciliation and love is painted as pleasant, positive, constructive, inclusionary, and enhancing union. Why argue and blame when one can shake hands and not judge? It is all New Order gibberish targeting the sacred and unique Sacrament of Confession; a sacrament which states, in no uncertain terms, that there is sin, that this sin is very wrong, evil and harmful, and that we must acknowledge, admit to, and seek to remove this sin in order to find salvation. That is the vital message of "negative theology." As we all know, the New Order cannot accept sin because it views labeling something or someone as sinful is judging them unfairly and sweepingly thus increasing tension, anger, and division. It disturbs the aura or feng shui of the New Order.
Signs of a Poor New Order Confession
It is one thing to go to confess one's sins to a New Order priest. It is quite another to truly confess one's sins to a traditional priest. New Order "reconciliations" are characterized by a sitting, face to face orientation between penitent and priest, which almost becomes more like a brief discussion or "rap session" than a Sacrament of The Church. Regardless of one's confessed sins, the New Order priest's response may be characterized as one of three possible "responses".
- Solitaire: Here the penitent confesses his or her sins to what seems like a blank wall, which merely recites some prayers at the close and says, "God Bless You" or "take care". Obviously there is no attempt to edify or cause reflection in the penitent.
- Generic Wimpy: Here the penitent receives the same general, vague, wishy-washy response if the sin is stealing a pencil or killing twenty people. Again, what reflection or deep thoughts can come out of such a pathetic absolution?
- Psychobabble: Here the penitent receives free psychotherapy with his confession. Half of one's sins are not sins at all but merely expressions of daily living. The other half invariably derive from some interior, deep-rooted psychological, situational, or personality trait. One expects the priest to proclaim, at a certain point, "your time is up, see you next time, go find yourself". While there may be some reflection or deep thought initiated here, its tone and flavor is more like Sigmund Freud than the Cure of Ars.
Notice that in none of the above responses there is any constructive reflection, insight, or meditative point derived by the penitent. The entire process becomes a monotonous, cookie-cutter, knee-jerk, bland, unemotional, mechanical rap session instead of the powerful, transcendental, unique, special, loving touch of God's mercy, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation which true, traditional confession should be.
Another popular New Order tactic is the so-called communal reconciliation, which pretends that one can reconcile with God as one attends a baseball game. Maybe the priest will ask the crowd to do a wave once group reconciliation is granted! Obviously, this concept is an ironic distortion of true confession. First, it is crowded yet solitary in that one's unique, personal issues are not addressed or given importance. Second, you cannot get much more generic than a "one size fits all" proceeding! Third, such proceedings look more like motivational group exercises than reaching out to one's God.
The New Order seems to forget that they already had a "communal reconciliation" which they disgarded in the new rite. That was the second Confiteor followed by the priest's absolution which even the Indult Latin Mass has done away with. That second absolution just before Holy Communion reinforced the first absolution at the foot of the altar and absolves all venial sins of those in attendance if those attendees are not in the state of mortal sin and are willing to sin no more. What the New Order has forgotten consistently is that one must be pure of heart and soul to receive Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity at Holy Communion.
Signs of a Good, Traditional Confession
You know you have been to a good, traditional confession when you both approach and participate in a humbling, reverent, sacred, transcendent, confession of sins and reflection on wrongs and harms. There is a clear acknowledgment of sin as sin, sin as evil, and sin as dangerous to one's salvation. There is a clear connection between the seriousness of one's sins and both the response and the penance pronounced by the priest.
Each visit to the confessional is unique and clearly framed by the nature and extent of sin. The priest provides pertinent and hopefully profound meditative points based upon the nature and scope of one's sins. One not only feels relieved of sin's burden, as reflected in Psalm 32:3-5, but consequently closer to God and fortified for the continued battle against sin, one's nature, and the society, which plays on both. A good, traditional confession is a full meal of God's Divine Mercy, Redemption, and Forgiveness, which paves the way for reconciliation with Him. A poor, New Order confession is a fast-food snack of man-made, secular babble decorated in empty religious condiments which paves the way for greater sin and separation from a God, Who over time, becomes increasingly distant and unknown.
We should know by now that the New Order's map of destruction is not limited to The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass or The Most Sacred Eucharist. Second only to Christ's Presence among us 2,000 years ago, our beloved Confession is a true link between our God and our humanity, with its weakness and failings. It presupposes that we adore and know God so that we can realize our failures to reach His loving standards for us. It includes that we humbly, contritely, and honestly approach Our Father with true sorrow for our sins. It is the key that opens the door to God's Infinite and Divine Mercy for the confessional is the chamber of His Sacred Heart pouring forth His Divine Mercy.
It is the salve that begins the healing of reconciliation. Tradition holds it dear to our salvation. The New Order pays it lip service, emasculates its focus on sin, and tramples it in favor of reconciliation, which is impossible without it. It is like talking about Mozart before one buys a piano and takes piano lessons. Such a twisted version of truth by the New Order should not surprise anyone. Does not the New Order allow children before marriage, giving Holy Communion without consecrated hands, administer to the youth First Communion before they have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and place man before God? How can one receive true confession from a system, which, in actuality, needs a total general confession itself?
Until the New Order returns to the Old Order and re-establishes the true meaning of the confessional and the true Immemorial Mass of Tradition, it will languish in the limbo of lukewarmness and laxity, causing countless souls to perish. You have a free will. Choose. Which form of confession do you think is best for the everlasting life of your soul? To those who truly know, it's a no-brainer!
What we must remember always is that it takes a penitent person to complete the sacrament. It begins and ends with the essence of contrition - the Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.