When is the last time you have gone to the Sacrament of Confession? Why? It’s needed and provides grace from God. Ongoing grace. You and I need it. I recommend going once a month, that is what I do. Go more if you need to. If you are in a conscious state of mortal sin run to it as fast as you can (mortal sin permanently separates us from God, examine your conscience by reviewing the 10 commandments and Beatitudes). Call the rectory, ask to see a priest to go to confession today. If you are afraid because you have not been to Confession in years and you don’t even know what to say, it doesn’t matter, go, the priest will help you. It is not a one time sacrament, go often, grace will abound by going regularly, Jesus will transform you in and through this sacrament which He instituted. Regular confession (monthly or at an absolute minimum of once a year) and regular Mass and Communion reception at least every Sunday are the most important things we need to do as Catholics to sustain our spiritual lives and stay on track. Both forgive sins (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1393 on how the Eucharist or reception of Holy Communion forgives sins).
Indulgences are closely linked to this Sacrament also called Penance and Reconciliation. The Catechism of The Catholic Church states, “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven”. (CCC 1471). Confession frees us in so many ways. When I leave the confessional I feel like a large weight has been lifted and all the sludge dirtying my soul has been washed. If more went to Confession then more Psychologists and Psychiatrists would be out of work.
A friend once said to me, “Catholicism is not for wussies”. I love this statement and it’s true. When is the last time you admitted you were weak and needed God’s help? It’s important you do. Do it then go to The Church receive the Sacraments and practice your faith.
Pope Francis is an International sensation and that’s good. He is like the grandfatherly sage and you just want to hug Him. I feel like Jesus was like that too. However, we must be careful and we must listen and go deeper and seek truth. Jesus did not sugarcoat his message and Pope Francis is drawing ALL people to him and to the church but it is important we listen to his message and the message of the church and the message Jesus brought some 2000 years. The message is Repent. The first thing Jesus said when he started his ministry was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – Matthew 4:17. Repent means to turn around and change your ways. Furthermore, 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us “and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land”.
If you are drawn to Pope Francis, or even non-Catholic Christian preachers like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Billy Graham and others because they entertain, then you are like a leaf blowing in the wind because the next person that comes along with a message you think you like, or entertains you, or you feel fits in with your sinful lifestyle then you will be carried away and you will just keep blowing around being tossed and turned with no foundation and no root.
I love Pope Francis. I also loved Pope Benedict and Pope Saint John Paul II. I also love my current Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput. I love Jesus more than all of them. I have a personal relationship with Jesus that I work hard at every day. I don’t have a personal relationship with any of the above mentioned. I don’t go to mass to be entertained. I go to mass to receive the Sacrament that Jesus instituted. God is my rock and refuge, no one or nothing else is. I love Catholicism because it is everything I mention above and Jesus gave it to us, he gave us or instituted our Church when He said to our first Pope St. Peter, “You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” – Matthew 16:18.
Pope Francis is the current person sitting in the chair of Peter, it’s called Apostolic succession, and I follow him because he follows Jesus!
If Pope Francis has drawn you in, or made you think, or makes you feel good regardless of whether you go to Church or not, I really encourage you to go deeper, study our faith, learn the prayers of the Church, practice the Sacraments regularly, because they provide us with grace, which is God’s life in us. Most importantly I encourage you to start immediately building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord, King and Savior by practicing all the above, finding a small group of faith-based people to meet with regularly and meet one on one with a spiritual advisor. All of the things I mention in this article are what I do and it has made all the difference in the world.
If your faith is rooted in Pope Francis or Joel Osteen or someone or something else you will eventually be disappointed because they like you and I are human beings, weak and prone to sin. Only Jesus saves, only Jesus heals and only Jesus provides eternal life.
Faith defined is – complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Another definition is Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
St, Paul tells us what faith is in Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”.
Let’s always make sure our faith is complete trust and confidence in Jesus and only Him. Let’s receive the Sacraments He instituted and practice and live our faith steadfastly no matter what cirmcumstances we find ourselves in. Let’s live chaste and pure lives in every way. Let’s never blow in the wind like a leaf taken here and there and everywhere with no root.
If we do we experience the abundant life in this life and the next.
St. Thomas Aquinas, my brother Dominican in the faith said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To those without faith no explanation is possible.
As I always like to say, take baby steps, it is a journey with highs and lows. Make your faith steadfast and like the mustard seed Jesus told us about. Let the seed in you be the seed on good soil so it can produce richly. It takes time. It is a lifelong journey so keep walking!!!
God bless you!
Mr. Charles A. DeFeo, OP
The author of this article