December 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 262


Sister Lucy's GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER column for December 15, 2000


        Every Catholic should give Jesus a gift for Christmas. That gift should be a heart that is free of mortal sin and even venial sin. This means that every one should make a very good confession before Christmas. In order to be of help to you, I wish to present basic information about what constitutes serious sin and an examination of conscience.

        First of all, when a Catholic goes to confession, he MUST confess every single mortal sin of which he is aware. To deliberately and knowingly leave out any mortal sin, a person commits another mortal sin called a sacrilege and he is worse off.

        To commit a mortal sin, three things are necessary.

      1) The thought, word, or deed MUST BE SERIOUS
      2) one must know AT THE TIME that the act is serious; and
      3) one must give FULL CONSENT of the will. If any one of these three elements is missing, a person has NOT committed a serious sin.

        If one finds that he has not committed any serious sin since his last confession (and do tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession), then he may confess some venial sins. I would highly recommend that oneís examination of conscience tries to find habits of sins and then confess those, perhaps even trying to find out WHY one commits those sins. For example, one may say: ďI have the habit of getting angry, when things donít go as I want them to because of my lack of Faith and deep-seated selfishness.Ē Confessing like that makes for an even better confession.

        Make an Act of Contrition before going into the confessional, and make a firm purpose of amendment, also. In other words, have the intention with Godís grace to sincerely try to avoid ALL sin in the future.

        Then confess your sins to the priest and say your penance before you leave the Church lest you forget to do it later.

        Thank God for that Sacrament. It was a gift to you and not everyone in the world is able to receive it because there are no priests for miles.

        Make it a point, then, to go back to confession in a month. It really would be better for you to do so every two weeks.

        Hell does exist, dear reader, and what sends people to hell is unforgiven serious sin. Donít believe for a moment, that if you live in grave sin, that even if you should die suddenly, youíll still go to Heaven. Donít believe either that you can live in mortal sin, but go to confession right before you die.

        You know, as well as I, that people can die suddenly with no chance whatsoever, of going to confession first.

        Letís make this Advent the best ever. Letís prepare for this Christmas, as though it would be our last. It might be.

        In my next regular column after Christmas, Iíll present an Examination of Conscience for you! But donít necessarily wait until then for confession, please. If you do, you'll miss receiving Him at the Mass celebrating His birth. You want to be there for that and participate fully I would think. It wouldn't be Christmas if you didn't. God bless you!

    Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

For past columns by Sister Lucy, see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Archives

December 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 262

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