photo by Bridget Touhey
Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat Luke 22:31
As Catholics we know we are sanctified by Jesus Christ, but we are justified by our works and not faith alone.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24
Today I want to talk to you about how one of these works is to admit our wrong doing. We often try to justify why we committed a sin. When we do this we actually block the salvific work God wants to grace upon us. Our justification of our sin actually blocks Jesus from saving us. I want to tell you a personal story in this regard to help demonstrate the point.
Probably about 4 or 5 years ago I went to confession to my Spiritual Director. I was listing my sins and I told him, “I told a white lie”. You see, I wanted him to know the lie that I told was venial because my intent was good. I told the lie because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. He just looked at me and said, “don’t do that.” I said, “don’t do what?” He answered, “sugar coat your sin.” I left a little stunned and had to ponder what he said.
A few weeks later while visiting a church on vacation I went to confession to a Priest who was known to be particularly harsh. Remembering what my Spiritual Director told me, and having told another lie with “good” intent, I simply said to this Priest, “I lied.” This Priest bellowed at me, “nobody likes a liar.” Indeed. I actually started laughing. And I knew he was right. I know a lot of people would be wounded at the harshness of these statements to me in confession, but I was not. I was grateful, super grateful, because I left that day intent on never lying again. Because of these Priests I became a woman of my word and I learned how to operate in life without incorporating this sin as part of it which made my life more peaceful and joyful.
It is the job of our Priests and Bishops to help purge us of sin. When we look for justification for what we are doing we never get better. We circle the drain of temptation and sin, never elevating beyond to be uplifted to Sainthood. What I had been doing was justifying my sin. When I justify my sin I am trying to save myself and God cannot step in and save me. When I admit my sin, I disarm the devil, who is trying to accuse me and keep me stuck in guilt and shame. “You’re a liar”, he says, but I can now respond, yes I did that and I handed it to My Lord. This is when the Lord can step in and stomp on the head of the accuser. His power made perfect in my weakness, but only when I humble myself enough to allow him to.
Throughout these past several years with all of the sex scandal that has surrounded the church, I have looked for the Bishop who simply says, “We were wrong. We covered up. This is our sin. Please forgive us.” If this happened we would see the saving power of God come down like He saved Ninevah who repented in sack cloth and ashes. We would see sin purged. Instead, generally what I see is the cover up, the lack of transparency, not releasing investigative work, the circling of lawyers and the pointing of fingers;
The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Genesis 3:12
Did you ever wonder if Adam and Eve had just said I did it and I am sorry I was wrong, what would have happened? Would God have kept them in the garden? Even in their hiding and justification of their sin, God was still merciful to them. What if they had just admitted it?
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by its gates. Revelation 22:14
God will make everything transparent so it is just better for your soul if you recognize this and are transparent yourself. That’s when grace can pour into you. The church institution would do well to understand this because if they don’t God will make them understand.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
On an individual level you can only purge yourself of sin. The more of us that do this the more God will raise up Saints. Stop being offended by Priests who try to better you and instead listen to them. Do not try to justify your sin. Instead admit your wrongdoing in the name of justice, and let God pour salvific grace and mercy into your soul.
What a beautiful commentary
Thank you. God Bless you.
Good point , I’ve cried several times coming from confession. But it’s having the grace to hear and change.
I thank you for a beautiful and life-changing post.
Six years ago our parish was marred by clergy abuse. The priest was abruptly removed, but the parishioners were never told why.
Parishioners reacted to the cover-up by staying away from mass.
This week we learned that our church had closed.
As you say, if the Bishops would humble themselves, and say that they erred, if they comforted the deeply wounded laypeople, then the church would have a chance to recover. Then, as you say, the saving power of God would indeed come upon us. 🌷
Pray pray pray. 🙏
Yes, it is the best way. Thanks. God bless you. 🤗🌷
I agree with you. So much wounds need to be acknowledged. It’s doesn’t weaken our Faith, it strengthens it. The leaders of our Church need to recognise this.
That was eye opening! Thank you!
God Bless you.
2 Chronicles 7 :14 …. echoes yet again :
” If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Thank you, Susan. I had the same a while back , but it came to me through the amazing book :
“Divine Intimacy” , by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD. Section 118 . Pg 336: “Not Excusing Oneself” …spiritual progress does require brutal honesty, which is in fact , love. Diligere. Diligence. Same latin root word that means love !
Thank you. I needed to hear that.
You’re welcome. Be blessed.
Thank you. I had the exact experience with a priest at my parish. I still struggle with not attempting to justify my white lies…as a person with high social anxiety I had gone through years of life telling “white lies” to avoid social events. I now know my anxiety isn’t an acceptable excuse for a sin that Scripture makes clear is a link to satan and the adversary. “He was a liar from the beginning.”
God bless you. I would also have a conversation with God about what the root cause of your social anxiety is as well. He could reveal a lot to you and heal that as well- I am speaking from experience with anxiety…
I finally have my answer for my intense social anxiety. I’ve recently been diagnosed (very late) with being on the autism spectrum. Because I didn’t have any intellectual disability, I learned to mask my autistic traits beginning in middle school. An outcome of that is my intense social anxiety. I’m glad God led me to the truth that I had suspected for years.
God Bless you.
i don’t want to lie and say i like you because i don’t … i find your posts very self appointing …. look at me look at me … i’m a little saint aren’t i just so perfect BUT on this post i smell some self humility sneaking in and you are spot on i applaud your courage and your honesty ..
here’s the thing about honesty, you can be honest without being mean. God Bless.
Beautiful! The more direct and contrite we are in confessing the more we can feel the burden being lifted and God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and absolution. But, even if we don’t “feel it” we still receive it….and THIS is why the Sacrament is so special and rejuvenating. Many times in the pew while doing my penance, tears have welled up because of the realization of the joy of how good God is….ALWAYS!
God Bless you.
Lance the boil (sin) straight away!
Really enjoyed the article!
Thank you and God Bless you.
Joyous greetings! I’m in a very small rural parish, the past 10+ years we’ve had a gentle, holy Nigerian priest who was available for confessions after the three daily Masses each week. I tried to go every 2-3 weeks, and almost every time, after I confessed my sins, he would simply say “Try to avoid such situations in the future”. Not much of a spiritual guide but I knew Jesus was working through him. But one amazing time, I confessed upcoming work-related stress, and he actually stood up over me, laid his hands on my head, and starting loudly praying and blessing me. It was very annointed and wonderful. Never happened again. He’s now been transferred by the bishop and we currently do not have a priest, only a substitute coming up on the weekends for the time being to serve 3 small churches. I miss daily Mass and frequent opportunities for confession. Sigh.
I will pray for you. That’s a wonderful story.
That bellowing priest you wrote about reminds me of Padre Pio. He was never intentionally cruel or hurtful but he always said what needed to be said in the way it needed to be expressed.
That said, I don’t know how many times I would have been thrown out on my ear had I gone to St Pio for confession of repeat sins!
Hi friend. Hope you have been well. And yes Padre Pio was like that. My Spiritual Director has a devotion to him. Not sure about the Priest I went to on vacation.
I am well, Susan, well indeed.
I think sometimes God brings priests to us.
And sometimes God brings us to priests.
Great testimony of confession. This is why I like to go to my confessor – he holds me accountable.
We need to always remember the Divine Mercy of God desires to be poured out upon all sinners and saints alike.
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My confessors have never held me accountable for my “justified” impatience. Your wonderful post has really opened my eyes. Thank you.