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Praised be Jesus Christ!

Fr. Jirak and I both spent four days last week taking the 8th grade students on retreat just outside of Oklahoma City.  Witnessing all of those young men and women experience God in a new, profound and personal way was such an inspiration for me.  For many of them, this was the first time having a spiritual encounter with God and not just seeing the faith as a set of rules to be followed. 

One of the most impactful parts of the retreat was the evening of adoration and confessions.  All of these kids have experienced adoration and confessions before but there was something powerfully tangible about the experience of that night that was new and life changing for many.  When I asked some of the kids about why they thought this experience was different from confessions in the past, many of them said that they thought that it was because they were able to take more time to prepare and examine their conscience and they did not feel rushed during the confession. 

This just goes to show that not all confessions are created equal. I think most of us have experienced “normal” confessions as well as “extraordinary” confessions; and while there is no way to make every single confession extraordinary, there are some things that you can keep in mind to improve the quality of your confessions and thereby increase the grace that you receive from the Sacrament.

1) Make a good examination of conscience and confess all mortal sins.  When we intentionally conceal mortal sins in confession, whether it be through fear, pride or embarrassment we actually make a bad confession and we do not receive the grace of the sacrament. Conversely, the better we are able to examine our conscience, the more impact we will receive in confession.

2) Feel true sorrow for our sins. It is possible to go to confession without feeling any sorrow for our sins. Like concealing sins in confession not being sorry for your sins can invalidate the confession. As a matter of fact, if you tell the priest that you are not at all sorry for your sins, he cannot grant you absolution. That being said, even the slightest sorrow for your sins is sufficient for absolution—it is enough to be sorry that you are not sorry, but the greater compunction and sorrow we have for wounding the Sacred Heart of our Lord, the greater will be our fervor turning from sin.

3) Make a firm resolution not to sin anymore. This is the most difficult part of turning a good confession into a great confession. When we make an act of the will that we will turn from sin and avoid what leads us to sin we work to cooperate with God’s grace to make the concrete and positive changes that we need in our lives. Asking God for the grace to make this firm resolution is one of the best ways to open ourselves to his grace which will lead to deeper interior conversion. 

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Curtis

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