By sinning, Adam and Eve abandoned God's friendship and His ways and chose instead to be left to their own devices. They lost sanctifying grace, which entitled them to be God's children and live in His heavenly home for eternity; they forfeited untold supernatural gifts from the Holy Spirit that gave them clarity of reason and integrity of heart. The consequent obfuscation of reason fostered duplicity of heart and a wounded human nature greatly debilitated by pride, the lust of the eyes, and the lust of the flesh. Deprived of God, man finds himself very often chasing after rainbows.
Post-truth is the international word of the year in 2016. We live in an era where what matters is not fact but emotions. Time and again, man has fallen into the trap of making himself the arbiter of truth and goodness, giving way to the notion that everybody must be right and it is just inadmissible to say someone is wrong. This explains the loss of the sense of sin in wide swaths of modern society.
Conscience may be muffled and ignored. Fortunately, no matter how enfeebled its voice gets, it never becomes totally extinguished. It is an untiring and loving invitation of God to all men to come back home, much like the prayer of the father of the Prodigal Son. The voice of God in each man's heart is always a ray of hope, a blessing. It is a pledge that God's love and forgiveness trumps all evil. It is no coincidence that a good conscience is described as tender because of the unmistakable clarity of mind and affection of the heart that is felt when God speaks to us. The devil, aptly called the Accuser, is often behind a scrupulous conscience, because he is the Father of Lies who denies any evildoing in a hardened conscience.
Sin is a deliberate action that goes against the dictates of a good conscience. It may be one of omission or commission; mortal or venial. Mortal sins deprive the soul of sanctifying grace and supernatural life, while venial sins weaken the soul in its most important battle for holiness. Mortal sin is so grievous that to die even with one such impenitent serious sin is enough to bring about eternal punishment in hell, the most horrible tragedy that could befall man. Confession is the sacrament that forgives all mortal and venial sins without exception. It is a proof of God's mercy, power, and abiding presence. God gave us this sacrament to reassure us of receiving His forgiveness without leaving any shadow of doubt, filling us instead with joy and peace; indeed, it is a touching detail of God's paternal providence and refinement.
Confession begins with a diligent examination of conscience that covers the time since our last good confession. This is followed by contrition and a firm decision to overcome the sins we resolve to confess. We proceed with going to the sacrament to confess our sins to the priest, receiving the absolution and performing the penance or satisfaction imposed at its conclusion.
Although the Catholic Church bids us to go to confession at least once a year, regular confession anywhere from once a week to once a month is highly recommended, even if we do not have mortal sins to confess. It is an excellent battle-ax with which to conquer in the battleground of virtue, as well as a shield against the adversaries of holiness. It is a spiritual aid that helps us develop a tender conscience and humility, both necessary for a refined love of God and neighbor.
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