"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Sacred Remorse (DAY 20)

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery
by Guercino, c. 1621 (Dulwich Picture Gallery)

Point Of Departure: Why do I have to talk to a priest? Can't I go directly to God? Of course you can. Only God can forgive sins and He can forgive you through other means than the sacrament of penance (reconciliation). But the church teaches that we must go to confession most especially when we are in a state of serious sin (sins that do great damage or threaten to destroy our relationship with God and others). There is no official "list" of such sins.

Confession when a priest is not available

Last March 20, 2020, Pope Francis said in his homily, “I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can't leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?' Do what the catechism says. It's very clear. If you don't find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God's grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God's forgiveness, without having a priest at hand.”

How To Make An Act Of Perfect Contrition:

St. Maximilian Kolbe, (8 January 1894 –14 August 1941) was a Polish Franciscan Conventual friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp on Auschwitz in Poland during World War II. Shortly before the war broke out, he wrote a letter to his followers, The Militia of Mary Immaculate, telling them to go directly to God for the forgiveness of sin when there is no priest available. He wrote:
"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance.  Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."

Similarly, Pope Francis tells us, "Speak to God [directly]. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth..." In extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is sufficient to have our sins forgiven. Keep in mind that this act includes the desire for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) and the intention to receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity when a priest already becomes available. This does not exempt us from the need to talk with the person whom we have hurt or offended and tell that person that I am sorry as well.

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire... a deep desire to undergo ongoing conversion rooted in the merciful and unconditional love of God and not out of fear of Hell or death. 

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)

1. Luke 15:1–32 (‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’)

Considerations To Ponder:

Act of Contrition

O 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 occasions of sin.

My God, I Love Thee
(From the Latin by Edward Caswall)

My God, I love thee! not because
I hope for heaven thereby;
Nor yet because who love Thee not
Must burn eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace!
For me, didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony,
Yea, death itself – and all for one
That was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heaven,
Nor of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as thyself hast loved me,
O everlasting Lord!

E'en so I love thee, and will love,
And in thy praise will sing – 
Solely because thou art my God,
And my eternal King. Amen.

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was one of the original companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He spent his life as a missionary in India and Japan.

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIPusing 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Luke 15:1–32

There will be great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
  “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
  Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

Commentary (Credits: Universalis.com)

Today’s gospel gives us three particularly attractive Lukan stories of forgiveness. The first two form a typical Lukan pair. First comes the story of the lost sheep, which comes also in Matthew. Luke, however, puts all the accent on the joy in heaven at the return of the sinner. Then, to the story of the man looking for his sheep, Luke adds the story of a woman looking for her lost coin. He is always careful to show that women have an equal part in the Kingdom with men. So he deliberately pairs Zechariah and Mary, Simeon and Anna, Jairus’ daughter raised to life with the Widow of Naim’s son, and so on. The main story, however, is the Prodigal Son, told with all Luke’s love, artistry and delicacy of character-study: the wastrel son who goes back home simply because he is hungry; the loving father perpetually on the look-out, running to meet the son, interrupting the carefully-prepared speech and pampering the returned wastrel; the disgruntled stay-at-home who invents slanders about the other’s ‘loose women’ and is gently corrected by his father’s ‘your brother’. An unforgettable picture of the overflowing love and forgiveness of God.