In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Beloved brothers and sisters, in recent weeks I have been speaking with you about the urgent need we have to gain faith and courage in troubled times, such as the times we live in, and the powerful means the Church gives us to gain this faith and courage. Last week, our subject was prayer. This week our subject is the Holy Mystery of Repentance (Confession).
What, exactly, is the connection between making a good confession and gaining courage? It is this: Having an impure, uneasy conscience undermines our mind and will. If we are not at peace with ourselves, if we are constantly aware of not being right with God in our hearts, we cannot have the strength, the courage, the peace of mind to step forward into the battles of life.
Our Holy Father Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain says that a pure conscience is the joy of joys, and an impure conscience is the sorrow of sorrows. Now someone might say, “Well, I haven’t murdered anyone, I haven’t been unfaithful to my spouse, I just commit the ‘ordinary’ sins everyone commits. Therefore I have a clear conscience.” My brother, my sister: There are no “ordinary” sins. Every sin puts distance between us and God. Every sin destroys love for our brother. Every sin damages our heart, our mind, our will. The struggle against sin, every sin - the great and the so-called “small” – must be constant!
When someone says, “I have a clear conscience; I don’t need to go to confession,” and they are angry – irritated - when you suggest they should go to confession regularly – this is the clearest proof that they do not have a clear conscience! Someone whose conscience is clear notices even the smallest sins, and he wants to run to confession to clean them out of his soul. When the priest says, “You should confess,” they respond with joy and humility. On the other hand, someone who constantly justifies himself becomes more and more blind – indeed, he sees no sins in himself, because his ego has grown to become his god, and nothing disturbs him, or, rather, nothing seems to disturb him, that is, on the level of his consciousness. On the level of his subconscious, he is in turmoil, and the evils lurking in his heart control all of his thoughts and actions, even though he is not aware of it.
Thus we observe that those who confess frequently see many sins in themselves; they come to hate the smallest sin, they want to confess it, and they grow spiritually; they acquire purity of heart. Those who never or rarely confess: they don’t see anything wrong with themselves! “Well,” they say, “I am no worse than anyone else,” or even, “Well, I am better than so and so over there, “ and so forth. And such a person will go to the grave never having acquired true repentance. Such a person is Christian in name only. His salvation is very doubtful.
Brothers and sisters: The merciful Lord, by His Divine Providence, has called us into His Holy Church, which has every means available for our salvation. Confession, the Holy Mystery of Repentance, is one of the primary – indeed absolutely necessary -means for salvation. Let us make haste to the spiritual Physician, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is represented by his ordained minister, the priest, and openly confess all our faults, great and “small.” We will acquire power over our sins and passions, reconciliation with God and neighbor, and the courage to face whatever comes in life – the courage that comes with the “joy of joys” – a clear conscience.
May the All-Merciful Lord inspire each of us to take this step soon and frequently. May He lead us all together to everlasting life. Amen.