It's not mentioned much from the ambo (one of those Vatican II words I hate so much), but Advent, which starts this coming Sunday is not only the start of the Church's liturgical year, but also a penitential season akin to Lent. Advent is a good time to set a clean slate by going to Confession and then doing some penances to signify your commitment to living a better life for Jesus this year.
Giving up thing is tough during Advent when parties are frequent. Back in the olden days, in high school, one of the nuns came up to a bunch of us and suggested that we should re-schedule our school Christmas Party for a time outside of Advent since it was not appropriate to have parties in Advent. She suggested that we have it around the Feast of the Epiphany, the celebration of the joyous moment when Jesus made Himself known to the Gentile world. Needless to say, this didn't go over very well with 16 year old boys and the term "'Piphany Party" became a byword for a week or so until it was forgotten. But Sister was right, you know.
Father Z, (Father John Zuhlsdorf) posted yesterday on Archbishop John Nienstedt's "General Confession Column" in the Catholic Spirit earlier this month. He has his pithy emphases and comments for you to see HERE. Then he posted his "Twenty Practical Tips for Making a Good Confession."
1) ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) ...wait our turn in line patiently;
3) ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
12) ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) ...never confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
15) ...never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) ...keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) ...remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.
What Does the Prayer Really Say
Speaking of Confession, Father Z finally got around to posting and commenting on Archbishop Nienstedt's column on the prohibition of indiscriminate "General Confessions" in lieu of private Confession with your priest. Stella Borealis posted it a few weeks ago. There have been some good comments on Father Z's post a few of which I post here:
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Father Robert Altier has some more good thoughts on Confession and an excellent Examination of Conscience HERE.