Confession for Advent

3rd Sunday of Advent
Beloved in the Lord Jesus, One early morning, when Bishop Fulton Sheen was opening the Church door, a young woman fell into the Church. ‘Who are you?, asked the Bishop?
‘Where am I?, she asked.
‘Well one thing is, you are drunk, he said. ‘Yes, I suppose I am.
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Then he told her, ‘Men drink because they love the stuff,’ ‘but women drink because they don’t like something else.’ What are you trying to escape from, by drinking?
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‘I’m involved in relationships with 3 different men,” she said,  but they found out the truth, so I got drunk.’
‘Who are you? he asked. She pointed across the street to her picture, and her name in neon lights at the theatre. ‘Father, I’m the leading lady in that musical comedy.’
Sheen took the actress in, out of the cold, and made her some hot tea. He told her to come back later and talk to him that afternoon. I’ll come back, only on one condition, she said, that you do not ask me to go to Confession. ‘Very well then,” he said. ‘I shall not to ask you to go to Confession.’ ‘I want you to promise me that you will not ask me to go to Confession. ‘Ok, I promise you that I will not ask you to go to Confession,’ he said.
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So she came back that afternoon, and the bishop told her that there are two paintings in the Church that are very famous, would she like to see them? She did, and so as they walked down the aisle of the Church, he showed her the Confessional – he did not ask her to go to Confession – he pushed her into it!
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Well, it was really what she wanted, confession, and the bishop knew it. It was a turning point in her life, to begin new, and once again to follow Jesus. In fact, this actress left her career and became a religious Sister.
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Friends in Christ, Confession is the sacrament that heals us of our sins. Mother Church requires us to go at least one a year, and that is to keep us on the straight and narrow, to get a clean start and begin again. We have had hundreds and hundreds of confessions here at St. John’s so far this Advent, it is really inspiring. And I know that these young people here today – you will all be going to Confession this Saturday.
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Confession is repentance of our sins, it is to get a clean start in the Christian life.
The theme of the Gospel this Sunday and last, has been the call to repent, and prepare for Christmas. ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,’ says John the Baptist, ‘make straight the way of the Lord. ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ At the heart of Christ’s teachings is repentance. The adulterous woman repented and was forgiven by Jesus. How many do we read in the Holy Gospels, came up to Our Lord and falling on their knees say, ‘Forgive me and help me,’ and he does. Turning from our sins often, should always be part of our life.
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At the end of every day, we should kneel down and make an examination of conscience. We think of how we lived, we thank God for his blessings, and we tell him we are sorry for our sins and faults. So daily, we ask the Lord’s forgiveness. But we also go to Confession.
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Someone asked Pope Francis, ‘Why can I not only confess my sins to God?’ ‘You can tell God ‘Forgive me’, he said, ‘But our sins are also against the brothers, against the Church, and for this it is necessary to ask forgiveness to the Church in the person of the priest.’ It is what Jesus asks us to do.
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God can heal cancer by a miracle, but he usually chooses to do it through a doctor;
God forgives sins, but he usually chooses to do it through a priest.
For sure we must confess our mortal sins, in order to receive Communion, and although it is required to go only once a year, it is a good practice to go to monthly to Confession. We receive grace every time, and it keeps us on track.
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A little boy, about 7 years old, told me, ‘Father, I will be going to confession every week,’ I told him ‘Very good,’ I do that also! And you know, that boy goes every week.
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When doctors do surgery on cancer, the question often asked is: ‘Did you get it all?’ Well, the priest is the doctor of the soul, and we want him to ‘get it all’ – we can’t withhold mortal sins, or else the cancer will continue.
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The priest who was the most famous confessor was our patron saint, St. John Vianney. He had amazing abilities as a priest. One time,[i] an old man who was a liberal-thinker, and who in his pride, thought that he was ‘above’ religion, happened to be on a tour of Ars, France. When St. John Vianney saw the man, he immediately took him by the arm and led him to Confession. ‘Now then, how long since your last confession?,’ he asked. With a smirk, he said it had been 30 years. Then John Vianney told him at exactly which church and on which day and in which town the man had made that confession. He was stunned! How could the priest have known all that? ‘And now you will make your confession,’ said Vianney. Out poured all his sins, and he promised to change his life, then and there. Instead of walking to hell, he got on the path to heaven.
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Another time,[ii] three ladies went to visit Ars, a mother, a grandmother, and a daughter. They had hoped to see the famous John Vianney, but he was busy hearing confessions. What the mother and grandmother did not know, was that the daughter had a mortal sin which was torturing her conscience, and she really needed to confess. As they were about to leave, John Vianney suddenly went out of his confessional leaving everyone standing in line; he went straight to the back of the Church and up to those 3 ladies, and asked the daughter to follow him to confession, which she did. The weight was lifted from her soul.
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Now friends, the priests here at our parish are not able to read souls like that, but we really will help people to make a good confession, and begin again. The Pope has said: ‘Don’t be afraid of confession, ‘when you are in line, you may feel [nervous], even shame – but then, when you finish confessing, you feel great – beautiful, clean, and happy.’
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Advent is a time of preparation, and we can prepare very well if we do it with Mary.
Mary, with you in our life, everything is sweeter, everything is easier. Help us and pray for us, that this Advent we will really experience the mercy of Jesus, which is the whole reason that he came.

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– a guide for going to Confession can be found at the top menu of this blog –

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Mother Cabrini]

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[i] The Secret of the Cure D’Ars, Gheon, p. 113

[ii] The Secret of the Cure D’Ars, Gheon, p. 110

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