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Cleansing one's conscience. Confession

A frightening truth. After death, unrepentant sinners lose all opportunities to change for the better, and this means that they will remain unchanged, committed to eternal torment. How can this be proved? This is manifestly proven by the real condition of some sinners and the nature of the sin itself ó holding the person in its prison, barring him all avenues of escape. Who does not know how difficult it is for a sinner to divert himself from his path of sin that he loves so well, toward the path of righteousness! How deep are the roots of sin in the heart of a sinner; how it alters the very vision of a sinner so that he perceives things differently to what they really are, and recognizes the repulsive as appealing. That is why we see sinners often do not see their own downfall and do not think of turning to God for redemption: vanity and pride have blinded them. When they do begin to acknowledge themselves as sinners, they surrender themselves to despondency, which spreads a deep gloom in their minds and hardens their hearts. If it werenít for Godís grace, what sinner would turn to Him? At the same time, the time and place for Godís grace to be effective, is definitely in this world only. After death, only the prayers of the Church can react on that soul which has retained its receptiveness to spiritual light, due to its former good deeds. Unrepentant sinners are without a doubt, sons of perdition.

When you have sinned and your sins burn and torment you, run quickly to the Only Living and Eternal Sacrifice of sins, and place all your sins before It. You will not find salvation in any other way. Donít even think of saving yourself, by yourself.

Why is it that a sinful soul does not receive forgiveness for its sins until after it has deeply felt all their delinquency and destructiveness? Because, while sinning it accepted them as being pleasant and admirable, now in repenting, it has to acknowledge them as being calamitous and deceitful. Just as the desire to sin is born in the heart, so must the deliverance from it be accompanied with pain in the heart.

Genuine repentance is aided by conscience, memory, imagination, feeling and will. As we sin with all the powers of our soul, so should we repent with all our soul. Repentance in words only, without any intention to reform and without any feeling of contrition is called hypocritical. Realization of sin is dimmed from a negligent lifestyle ó it needs to be illuminated; feeling becomes dulled ó it needs to be awakened; the will weakens ó it needs to be forced. It is said: "Öthe Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Mat 11:12). Consequently, a confession should be heartfelt, deep and complete.

Where does fasting and repentance lead to? Why the effort? They lead to the cleansing of sin, spiritual tranquillity and unification with God. There are reasons why we should fast and repent from the bottom of the heart. There is an invaluable reward for a labor of conscience. But do many of us have filial love toward God? Do many of us invoke with warm feelings our Heavenly Father, with the words of Our Father? Is it not the opposite, that in our hearts no filial voice can be heard because earthly cares and attachment to pleasures have stifled it? Yes, we deserve His righteous punishment in accordance with our sins; and it is astonishing that He shows such prolonged forbearance and doesnít cut us down like barren fig trees. Therefore, let us with all strictness, examine our polluted hearts and behold how much impurity obstructs the entry of Divine Grace into them, and hasten to propitiate God with tears of repentance.

In comparing confession to an operation, it can be said: you will endure a difficult and painful operation, and because of it you will become healthy. This means that in a confessional, all your disgraceful deeds (without concealing any) must be revealed to your spiritual father, even though it will be painful, and shameful, and demeaning for you. Otherwise, the wound will not be healed, it will undermine the spiritual health and the infection will spread into other healthy parts. A priest is a spiritual physician. Show him your wounds, unashamedly, openly, with childish trust: after all, your father confessor is your spiritual father. He is entrusted with love for his spiritual children, and the love of Christ is greater than physical love. He has to answer for you before God. Why has our life become so unchaste, full of passions and sinful habits? Because many hide their spiritual ulcers, which ache and inflame further.

He who gets used to give an account of his actions in a confessional in this life, will not be frightened to give an account on Christís Judgement Day. That is why this brief tribunal of repentance had been established so that we, cleansed and reformed, can give an unashamed response at Christís judgement day. Realization of this fact must prompt us to confess our sins at least once a year. The longer we postpone our repentance, the more we get snarled in our sinful entanglement, and the more difficult it will be to sort things out in oneís heart. And conversely: the more sincere the confession, the more tranquillity for the soul. Sins are furtive snakes, gnawing at a personís heart and giving him no peace. Sins are prickly thorns embedded into the soul. Sins are spiritual darkness. In order to completely rid yourself of ulcerous sin, produce fruits of repentance.

In order to scourge your pride with an honest acknowledgment and feel revulsion toward your sins, you need to confess more frequently. Think of the misery that sin has thrust you into and what the Lord Christ had done for your salvation. Remember His incarnation, His approach toward people, His teachings and His miracles: remember the many derisions He tolerated, revilement, being spat upon and beatings, and how He finally accepted the agonizing crucifixion on the cross, shameful death and burial, and then in Divine glory, Resurrected from the dead. All this He did in order to deliver you from eternal torment. Therefore, commit yourself totally to Him, your Benefactor, live for Him, fulfilling His commandments. Avoid everything which thrusts you into sin, such as: desires of the flesh, desires through sight and worldly pride; crucify your flesh with its desires and lusts; save your soul through patience, love God and your neighbor as you would yourself.

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