Expert Answer Forum
Penance QUESTION from Sleiman Shakkour February 14, 2000 Dear brother in Christ, peace be with you.
I need your guidance on a personal faith matter. My question to you: How can I mostly benefit from the coming Lent? Given that I have never been to confession since my first communion (about 15 years!) although many times I felt terribly guilty and sorry for my sins and prayed to Jesus for forgiveness and still do. However, I feel that I need to be really ready for confession. I need to be empowered by solid spirituality and strong commitment to live a truly Christian life - besides deep and honest repentance. Not only that, I have been also restraining myself from participating in the communion during mass, believing that I need to be worthy of receiving God by being free from sin first.
I have never felt as close to Jesus as I do now. I love him more than ever. Please advise.
Thank you and God bless.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on February 22, 2000 Dear Mr. Shakkour:
First, I would like to commend you for the integrity in not taking communion at this time. If you have not been to confession in 15 years you should not be taking communion until you get to confession.
I think the best way to benefit from Lent is to give up Pride for Lent.
Believe it or not, an attitude of not going to confession because you feel a need to be ready, to be solid spiritually before going to Confession is, in my opinion, a form of Pride. Pride can come in thinking one better than they are, or worse than they are. True humility means knowing who you are exactly.
You need to humble yourself and go to confession. But understand what confession is. Confession is not a sacrament of the spiritually healthy and solid. Confession is the sacrament for the spiritually broken and the Sacrament is the healing.
You have described yourself as not solid enough. Well not being solid enough means you need confession.
Lent will not benefit you at all unless you get to confession and then start going to confession regularly.
My advice is to mortify (humble) yourself and go to confession NOW, this week. Then and only then can you think about what devotion of penance you need to do for Lent.
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