Let’s talk about confession and why you need it, Jack! Here’s why you need confession, Jack! … and Jill and Jane and Jimmy. OK Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascension Presents. So one of the things I love to do as a Catholic priest, is I love, I love hearing confessions, not because I like the dirt on people, you know, I don’t hardly remember anything I hear in confessions. It’s this thing I call divine amnesia. The thing I love about confession is
it’s always a place of victory, it’s always a place where people are
returning to Jesus. It’s really remarkable. But one of the things I’ve noticed sometimes, is that when someone comes back to confession, if they’ve been gone for a long time and say, “You know Father, it’s been thirty years since my last confession, Fifty years since my last confession.”
“OK, and what do you need to confess?” “Well, you know, I, uh, I was a little bit short with my wife or I kind of, I was a little bit hard on my kids,” or something like this. “All right.”
“That’s it.” “OK, after thirty years that … just … alright.” “OK I say, “OK let’s, uh, pause. Let’s go back,” and I ask the question, I almost always ask the question in everyone’s confession, “Has God been number one in your life?” “Have you put other things ahead of God?” And oftentimes, the response is,
“I don’t know. Well, I tried to be a good person.” OK, that’s great, that’s wonderful
um, but that wasn’t the question. The question wasn’t,
“Hey, do you try to be a good person?” Because *garbled* when we compare ourselves to that, I mean the reality is this: we always think like, “Why, I’m not as bad as I could be,” but the truth is you’re also probably not as good as you should be, so like that’s not even a thing. You’re comparing your goodness to, like, people you know. Our goodness is compared to God himself. So let’s go back. “I try to be a good person.” OK. That wasn’t the question. The question was,
is God the center of your life? Because if anything other than God is the center of your life, that’s the first thing, that’s the first thing that we need to confess
every single time we go to confession. And the older we get, the more stuff
there is that competes for the first place in our hearts. So when it comes to going to confession, not like a kid because that’s maybe that was the last, was the
last time you went to confession, but going to confession like an adult, we
first have to do is we have to realize that one of the number-one sins we
probably have, is that we don’t put God in the center. We put him on the sidelines. Moving on. One of the other things we need to do, if we want to go to confession like an adult, is we need to understand what sin is. Someone says, “You know, have you, have you, you know … What do you need to confess for your sins?” “Well, I don’t know. I don’t really hurt anybody.” All right that’s great, but that’s not
what sin is. I’d like to define sin like this. I mean
the Bible has a lot of different ways to describe sin. It is very, very helpful, all of them.
But here’s how I like to describe sin: Sin is basically, it’s not like I’m angrily defiant against God, it doesn’t necessarily involve hurting someone else. It doesn’t necess … it’s never just a mistake or an accident. Sin is this: God, I know what you want me to do. I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do. That’s what sin is: God, I know what you want.
I want what I want. God, I know what you want me to do.
I’m gonna do what I want to do. It’s knowing what God wants and freely choosing to do something else. And so in light of that, to be able to go back and say, “OK, yeah when I was in second grade, the thing I knew God wanted me to do was obey my parents, wanted me to be nice to my siblings. He wanted me to not to cheat at school,” and those kind of things, but now here you are at twenty-five, now you’re here at fifty-five. OK, what does God want for your life? You say, “I have no idea even where to start.” Well thankfully, the Church gives us cheat
sheets so here’s where you can start. Here’s four places that you can start to be
able to make an examination of conscience like an adult but here’s my invitation for you: Your cheat sheets should be appropriate to your age and to your state in life. It doesn’t do a lot of good to have a cheat sheet, like an examination of conscience, that’s made for second graders or a confession cheat sheet made for single people when you’re a married person or for married people
when you’re a single person. Actually, there’s a fantastic examination of conscience for priests that just blows me away. It goes so deep, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. This is incredible. That’s helpful.” So first thing, find a good examination of conscience. Number two, there’s this prayer called the Litany of Humility by Cardinal Merry de Val and it’s this prayer that, you know, basically, it says, “Lord, from the desire of being loved, deliver me in Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me Jesus.” Go through all these things like,
“I desire being loved more than I desire to love.” I desire to be extolled,
more than a desire to honor someone else. To go through this litany of humility and realize there are some wounds in me. There are some areas in my life where I said,
“God, I know what you want. I want what I want.” A third opportunity for a cheat sheet is go to Jesus’ own words, the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful they’ll be
shown mercy. Do I live in a meek way?
Do I show mercy? Do I work and strive after peace? These are areas where I can look at my life and say,
“Am I doing it or am I not?” And the fourth examination of consciousness, fourth cheat sheet is actually called a Consciousness Examen. Now, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, which is the order that Pope Francis belongs to, is, he came up with this thing called the Consciousness Examen. Here’s what it is: It’s not the same thing as an examination of conscience. Here’s the steps: Go into prayer, you ask the Holy Spirit to help you, because sometimes we don’t know what we need to confess. Number two, you go over your day, your actual day that day. This is usually at the end of the day, right? Go over your day and walk through in your memory what happened. For all the areas in your life that day, where you said yes to God, where his grace was there, his invitation was there and you said “yes”, go through that day and say, “Thank you God for this, thank you for this, thank you for this.” At the end of the day, “Thank you, Lord,”
and then start again. Go back to the beginning. What were those times of your day where God was offering his grace and you said “no”? What were those times through your day where God, where it was very clear that God said, “I want you to do this,” but you said, “I want to do what I want to do”? To go through those moments of your day and at the end of that, say, “God, I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” and lay that at the feet of Jesus, because you realize it’s not just about sin, it’s about living out of a relationship with God.
That’s why the first thing I need to ask myself is this: Is God at the center of my life or is He in
the sidelines in my life? The degree to which you are living from the
relationship with God is the active part of your life. “God, I notice you were here, thank you.” “God I knew you were here and you were inviting me to do something and I didn’t do it, I’m sorry.” I promise you if you take any one of these cheat sheets and begin living them, begin walking through them, begin practicing them, knowing that God needs to be at the center and not at sidelines, I promise you, if you do this, you’ll begin learning how to make confession, to go to confession like an adult. Actually, learning how to go to
confession like a saint. And that’s what God wants you to be. From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name’s Father Mike. God bless.