From the Pastor's Pen



Christian author C.S. Lewis once wrote that Christianity is not so much about being nice people but in being "new men." We see this contrast in today's Gospel. "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus first answers in the predictable way. Follow the commandments! "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Perhaps for some of us it's easy to answer this way. "I'm a good person!" he seems to reply. Does he truly follow all the commandments he professes to follow? Does he -- in word and deed -- check off all the boxes of the moral law? Perhaps. Whether he's being honest or fudging the truth, Jesus accepts his answer at face value with compassion. "Jesus, looking at him, loved him."
But he's not done yet! Jesus wants to remind us that this attitude alone is not enough. "Go, sell what you have ... then come, follow me." Jesus' invitation to the young man is radical.
Abandon everything that gives you any sense of security. Give it all up for an unknown future with a wandering preacher.
The Christian life is not easy. "How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" It's easier, Jesus says, for a gigantic camel to squeeze itself through a tiny needle's eye. But the God of the universe creates out of nothing, breaks the bars of hell, and raises the dead to life. Is a needle's eye really such an obstacle? Jesus' invitation is always bigger than our own limitations. This week, what do we need to offer up? How is Jesus inviting us to follow him?


Perhaps it’s been awhile since you last went to Confession. Below are a few brief tips to get you started.

Examination of Conscience

Rather than a dry recitation of a formula, we want our Confessions to be honest, thorough, and heartfelt. Find a quiet place (usually in the church). Begin with prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit’s help to see yourself clearly. Then take a close look at your words and actions over the last week, the last month, the last year. Examine your behavior in the light of the Ten Commandments. Have you indulged in serious (“mortal”) sins that you have failed to confess, such as Theft? Lustful behavior? Lies? Drunkenness? What more subtle sins tug at your conscience? Have you said something that you should not have said? Have you failed to say that you ought to have said? Which of your actions were indifferent towards others, or unkind, or cruel? Feel free to write these sins down on a piece of paper to help you remember once you get into the Confessional. If it has been a long time since you’ve been to Confession, don’t try to remember every single sin you’ve ever committed; for now, just confess the major ones, the ones that most bother your conscience.


In the Confessional

  • Wait quietly in line until it’s your turn. While waiting, you might prepare yourself by reciting the Lord’s Prayer or a Hail Mary. When the person ahead of you exits the Confessional, you have two options: you can sit before the priest face-to-face, or you may prefer to kneel behind the screen, maintaining your anonymity.
  • The priest will give you a blessing or read a passage of scripture as a form of greeting.
  • Make the Sign of the Cross and say, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been [three weeks, three months, three years] since my last confession. These are my sins.”
  • Confess your sins to the priest. Don’t try to explain or justify them; simply confess them. Be specific but not too specific. You might mention how many times you have committed a particular sin.
  • When you have concluded, say, “For these sins and all the sins of my past life, I am truly sorry.”
  • The priest may offer some advice or consolation. He will then give you your penance.
  • Pray an Act of Contrition, expressing genuine sorrow for your sins:

    Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, 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 sin no more, and to avoid the near
    occasion of sin. Amen.”
  • The priest, acting in the person of Christ, will then absolve you from your sins. As he does so, cross yourself.
  • Thank the priest and quietly exit the confessional.

III. After Confession

Find an empty pew away from the Confessional and peacefully pray your penance.

Confession is offered at Immaculate Conception on Saturdays from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. If those times are not convenient for you, there are many other churches offering Confession at many other times. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to talk with any priest or deacon or anyone who you know who makes a habit of regular confession.