The magic of confession By: Minyong Ordonez (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

4:05 am | Sunday, January 13th, 2013

It sucks and we hate it. Our character flaws and personal aberrations make us restless, despicable at worst. Being bigoted, intolerant, hateful, hot-tempered, thick in the hide and foul-mouthed is an abnormal state.

We cannot mask our foul moods because they dwell inside of us. And pardon me, the slips are showing. They are visible in the eyes of the beholder, creating negative vibes. They bring discomfort, befuddlement, even disgust. “Avoid him!” people caution.

We Christians, specifically Catholics, are lucky. We have the Sacrament of Confession to remedy and heal our psychological guilt and human weakness. The Sacrament of Confession works like magic. It offers great relief, brings peace and serenity.

“Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain they are retained.”

Confession is designed for the need of human virtue of humility, orally acknowledging specific sins before God (represented by His Petrine-empowered priest), being verbally forgiven and given symbolic punishment as a sign of remorse.

Confession is a two-way participative act befitting human behavior using human faculties. Nothing invisible, nothing presumed. Because of its physicality, we are assured of its certainty. Confession as a sacrament is pragmatic, not theoretical. It defines the knowledgeable versus the idiot, the saint versus the sinner.

Little children once asked Pope Benedict XVI, “Why do we need to go to Confession often?” The Pope answered, “Because sin is like dirt. We get dirty every day. We take showers often to get rid of our dirt, to cleanse us so that we’ll always be spotless.”

Big ones

When we exemplify sin as dirt, we do not usually mean the big ones from the Ten Commandments—Thou shall not have other gods before me. Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not steal, etc.

What’s more flagrantly committed are the Seven Deadly Sins—pride (mayabang, naghahari-harian, burot, matigas ang ulo, bilib sa sarili); avarice (swapang, sugapa, kayumuan); envy (inggitero, insecure, may inferiority complex); wrath (mainit ang ulo, bwisit, basagulero, pikon); sloth (manhid, talunan, sawi, walang pakiramdam, manhid, kapalmuks); lust (bastos, malaswa, manyakis, marumi ang isip, DOM); gluttony (gahaman, matakaw, gutom, walang kabusugan, mangangamkam, kayamuan).

We usually humor ourselves with the Seven Deadly Sins. “Sapagka’t kami’y tao lamang” is our lousy excuse. We forget that the devil is in the details, wily as ever.

The flip side, of course, is an open secret, and saints know this: “God is in the details,” which is our recourse to sanity.

They say one sleeps soundly when his conscience is clear.

But how many times do we hear Catholics declare they are Catholics and their conscience is clear, even if they defy the teachings of their Catechism?

The conscience that Christianity refers to is a formed conscience, not a deformed one corrupted by materialism, but beatitude-inspired, capable of blessedness, a conscience that admits the immorality of sin and repents for it.

The rightness of things

Being liberated from sin through the Sacrament of Confession comes with intellectual and transcendent rewards. Intellectual, because it confirms in our minds the rightness of things. Transcendence, because it feeds poetry to our spirituality as God’s creatures.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. He who believes in me shall have life everlasting.”

The Year of Faith simply exhorts Christians, Catholics specifically, to perform more acts of faith, submitting one’s will to the power of Christian prayers, rituals and devotions, embracing the mysteries of God, obeying doctrines, and paradoxical aspects of God’s design for the salvation of man.

Humility is a sine qua non of Christian humanism, if man is to intensify his profession of the catechetical faith.

Catholicism, in its 2,000 years of existence, cannot be but scriptural in deeds and spirit, obedient to the Gospel, respectful of apostolic tradition, holy and wise through the Petrine empowerment by Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The dispensing of sanctifying grace that goes with access to the sacraments is the lifeblood of Catholics.

The grace after Confession, which is evil-removing and soul-cleansing, makes one worthy and receptive to another gift of grace that goes with receiving the Eucharist.

The Eucharist in the consecrated bread and wine offering is alive. It possesses the substance of the body and blood of Christ which, when taken, is the most palpable physical union man can have with God.

Think of being the soulmate of Jesus Christ—that’s the blessedness that we can have when we gain sanctifying grace with confession.

Upon receiving another sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, we imbibe the most magical sustenance to make our daily life rich in lovingness as man the father, as woman the mother.

It’s the gift of sanctifying grace that makes us radiate Christian love to our children, our family, and our community.

“Love is the greatest of all commandments.”

When our heart is pure and our soul is clean, we can always give and receive love.

We’ve got charisma.

E-mail the author at hgordonez



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