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    Helleborus, a flower associated with penance

    Confession Is an Act of Love

    Perhaps we will realize that what we sometimes consider a stumbling block is rather a rock we can step on.

    By Mother Teresa

    August 28, 2022

    This is humility: to have the courage to accept humiliation and receive God’s forgiveness. Our souls should be like a transparent crystal through which God can be perceived.

    Our crystal is sometimes covered with dirt and dust. To remove this dust we carry out an examination of our conscience in order to obtain a clean heart. God will help us to remove that dust, as long as we allow Him to; if that is our will, His will comes about.

    Perhaps this is what we have lacked. Our examination of our conscience is the mirror we focus toward nature: a human test, no doubt, but one that needs a mirror in order to faithfully reflect its faults. If we undertake this task with greater faithfulness, perhaps we will realize that what we sometimes consider a stumbling block is rather a rock we can step on. The knowledge of our sin helps us to rise.

    Helleborus, a flower associated with penance

    Photograph by 8kka ame

    Knowledge of self is very necessary for confession. That is why the saints could say they were wicked criminals. They saw God and then saw themselves, and they saw the difference. We become hurt because we do not know ourselves, and our eyes are not fixed on God alone; so we do not have real knowledge of God. When the saints looked upon themselves with such horror, they really meant it. They were not pretending.

    Knowledge of ourselves will help us to rise up, whereas sin and weakness will lead to despondency. Deep confidence and trust will come through self-knowledge. Then you will turn to Jesus to support you in your weakness, whereas if you think you are strong, you will not need our Lord.

    Confession is a beautiful act of great love. Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin.

    Confession is nothing but humility in action. We used to call it penance, but really it is a sacrament of love, a sacrament of forgiveness. When there is a gap between me and Christ, when my love is divided, anything can come to fill the gap. Confession is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys.

    The reality of my sins must come first. For most of us there is the danger of forgetting that we are sinners and must go to confession as sinners. We must go to God to tell Him we are sorry for all we have done that may have hurt Him.

    The confessional is not a place for useless conversation or gossip. The topic should be my sins, my sorrow, my forgiveness; how to overcome my temptations, how to practice virtue, how to increase in the love of God.

    Penance is absolutely necessary. Nothing is of greater force in restraining the disordered passions of the soul and in subjecting the natural appetites to right reason. Through penance we come to possess those heavenly joys and delights that surpass the pleasures of earth as much as the soul does the body, and heaven the earth.

    Our penance is an act of perfect love of God, man, and the whole universe. It is for us a joyful identification with Christ crucified; it is a hunger to be lost in Him, so that nothing remains of us but He alone in His radiant glory drawing all men to the Father.

    From Mother Theresa, No Greater Love. Copyright 1997, 2001 by New World Library. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

    Contributed By a portrait of Mother Teresa Mother Teresa

    Mother Teresa (1910–1997) founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity and dedicated her life to serving the poor of India.

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