Friday, April 06, 2012

The confessional: tribunal of mercy

A good counselor is not measured if one is a good adviser, but a good listener. Attentive, silent listening encourages the troubled to unload. Unloading empties the excesses of the heart. When the heart is emptied, illumination comes in. A solution to the problem! Wisdom from above! Eureka! God speaks to the heart of a person! That is the essence of confession. A counselor needs not give advice, but facilitates the troubled to have a good confession so that God Himself can speak to man's own heart. But when a confessor does give advice, it is not one that reprimands: for, the confessional is a 'Tribunal of Mercy.' God is Mercy: so must the priest-confessor, God's own representative on earth, show mercy. Reprimanding discourages further and later confessions. Confessing sins committed is not an easy thing to do. Confessing itself is a sign of repentance -- even if confessed sins are habitual. Will a man be denied the sacrament of confession just because of habitual sins? Is his lot a condemnation? Bad habits are signs of being under an ancestral bondage and curses which can only be broken off by the highest form of prayer, the Holy Eucharist! All the more that the person prone to habitual sins, needs mercy: attention, prayers and frequent confessions of temptations to avoid committing the same sins. When people are discouraged to confess again and they receive the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist with unclean hearts, men of God in the confessionals are answerable to God. One more thing: does face-to-face confession encourage a good, honest confession? Certainly not, because most withhold the shameful, secret sins of the heart. Go back to the confessionals with windows covered with linen or something that prevents the confessor from knowing the identity of one who confesses. The confessor must not even look at the window. Trying to know who confesses is already committing gossip in his heart as well as comparing confessed sins with fellow confessors, directly or indirectly. Jesus Christ is One Who hears confessions using the ears of priests; thus, what is heard inside the confessional must only be between the Lord and one who confesses.

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