The Temperate Man Confesses His Sins

reconciling the sinner

Scripture is more than encouraging of us to help bring people to conversion and confession: “He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20, Douay).  Here’s some thoughts for a Fraternus mentor.

Frequency and Comfort Level with Confession: Brothers who are in the habit of going to confession frequently will likely talk freely about it. Those who have never been frequently are more likely to be silent. While a great joy to those who experience its graces, Confession can be an intimidating topic to those not used to it. This may be something to keep in mind depending on the formation of the Brothers in your squad.

Your Witness: If the KM does direct the Brothers to ask their Captains about their experience with Confession and sorrow for sin, be prepared to share your witness. Your own personal witness of the transforming power of Confession and reaching a point of sorrow for your sin will edify the Brothers in your squad. Keep in mind that while it is often not prudent to share specific sins you confessed, a general testimony of “before and after” or how it has helped you overcome vice and grow in virtue might resonate. A majority of squad time should be the Brothers talking, but this could be a good week for them to ask you a question (as directed in the KM).

True Contrition and the Gift of Tears: Perhaps your witness or the KM may generate questions about the nature of contrition. You might prod this topic by asking “What is the difference between being sorry for the consequences of sin, and being truly sorrow for your sins?” Keep in mind that even imperfect contrition (also sometimes called “attrition”) is a gift from God. True contrition (or “perfect contrition”) is an even greater gift. It remits venial sin and if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible, remits even mortal sin. We ought to all ask for the gift of perfect contrition. But we ought not be discouraged when we are just not there yet – when going to Confession, even a small amount of imperfect contrition is all that is needed be absolved of your sins (1451-1453).

Accountability: The topic of sacramental Confession and contrition is likely to generate discussion easily yet if you have time, consider going deeper by asking about the relationship of sacramental confession to confessing to your Brothers. The topic of accountability may resonate particularly with older Brothers. It is easy for Catholics to treat the sacraments as checkoffs and stop there: Baptism, check. Confirmation, check. Mass, check. Confession, check. The power of the sacraments is only deepened when lived out in brotherhood and accountability.

If you have been in Exodus 90 or any other accountability structure, you might share how this works with your squad and how it has helped you. Related is the practice of having a regular confessor, a practice best solidified by meeting with the priest and expressing your desire that he be your regular confessor. Here you might ask the Brothers if they prefer to go to the same priest or not.

Daily Examination of Conscience: Much like accountability, this practice can increase the effects of the Sacrament. Herein, if you employ this practice, you might share how you do so, and how it aids you make a better confession.

The Challenge this week is more of a reminder than one that needs introduction. If one of the Lenten Challenges was getting to confession, and they have not yet made it, that very well may become this week’s challenge! Another possible Lenten Challenge they can add and take with them into Easter is accountability and a daily Examination of Conscience.

From St. Faustina’s Diary:

Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls

Catechism 1440: Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

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