Have you gone for confession to prepare yourself for Christmas yet? If your answer is no, read on...
(Disclaimer: if you’re in the middle of a meal, it’s best to finish it before reading this article.)
In my mother’s childhood days, she used to live in a rural village full of children just as poor as she was - unable to afford proper shoes, they used to walk kilometres barefooted just to get to school. Naturally, that presented various problems, such as having to spend a long time just to make the journey to and fro; the risk of stepping on something unpleasant such as broken glass; and having to endure the weather elements that could often be rather hostile.
But there was yet another problem that, upon first glance, could escape one’s attention: WORMS.
Spending one’s leisure time frolicking in muddy rice-fields was a popular pastime among village children back then. In those rice-fields, many worms happily thrived on the human waste used to manure one’s crops... worms that could easily enter an unsuspecting human through a small cut, or even worms small enough to squeeze themselves through the pores of the skin on someone’s foot.
It wasn’t uncommon, hence, for my mother to be chatting with a friend and to suddenly see her friend scrunch her face up in annoyance as a worm wriggled out of her nostril. To say the least...
Once a year, to help ‘exorcise’ these children of their parasites, the school nurse would administer a drop of deworming medication. One drop of the fast-acting and extremely effective medicine was more than enough: within minutes, you could find the school’s drains and toilets filled with poor children vomiting worms out of their system. (Hey, fair warning - I did ask you to finish your food first!) It must have been a sight that one could not possibly get used to, no matter how many times it was repeated throughout one’s schooling years.
So, what does this little disgusting anecdote have to do with confession? Well, if you thought those worms were bad, just think of our sins and how important it is for us to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
Close your eyes and imagine the devil at the moment that you make a good confession. And I mean a GOOD one, where you thoroughly examine your conscience, plead for the grace of true contrition for having offended God, and make really concrete resolutions (and tell them to your spiritual director!) on how to overcome your venial sins. How much more potent is the very power of God Himself, who enters into a humbled and contrite soul that is totally open to His grace? The darkness of the devil will surely flee from the presence of the source of Holiness and Purity, who enters into us at the moment of absolution, faster than worms can crawl out of our body.
If we do a proper examination of conscience, it can indeed be very nauseating to acknowledge the evil that we are capable of committing when the grace of God does not come to our aid! Yet no matter how painful or disgusting the process is, it’s better to have vomited those worms out (that is, to have confessed our sins) than to have them stay within us, accumulating and growing and causing us to suffer from malnutrition.
Sometimes, however, it can be tempting to tell ourselves “I haven’t committed a mortal sin, and I’m so busy with homework/ taking care of my little sibling/ training for that soccer match/ practising the violin that I really don’t have time for confession.” Or worse still: “I haven’t sinned all that much since my last confession last month.”
But consider the damage done by venial sin which debilitates our capacity to love, impedes our soul's progress towards virtue and goodness, and evidently, causes us to deserve temporal punishment. “Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1863) - so we HAVE to fight back by doing a good examination of conscience every day and having frequent recourse to confession, or we will eventually find our spiritual life debilitated and on the brink of collapse:
..."do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.” (St Augustine)
Sr. Clare, gazing at the Crucified Christ on the cross, received the grace to understand the gravity of sin that resided within her heart, which had led her to kill a God who had come only to save her and prove His love for her. If we find it difficult to stir up contrition within ourselves, we can also ask her to help us receive that grace of true sorrow and contrition.
Let us run to our Blessed Mother, especially in this time of Advent where She is preparing Herself for the birth of Jesus, and beg Her to prepare us as we go for confession so that baby Jesus may be born in our hearts, cleansed and renewed in His love. She, the temple and spouse of the Holy Spirit, will help us obtain that conversion of heart that the Holy Spirit makes possible, in order for us to make a truly contrite confession.
Hi! I’m Winnie. I'm a candidate with the Servant Sisters, which means one day - God willing - I'll be able to introduce myself as "Sr. Winnie," or better yet, St. Winnie! I'm a firm believer that not only do we reach Jesus through Mother Mary, but that Jesus Himself desires to lead us to Mary, because falling in love with the Eucharist was the start of a journey that ended up in my discovery of (or should I say, my being discovered by) the Home of our Blessed Mother. So have no fear in giving yourself totally to Her! I currently live on the tiny city-state-island of Singapore. It's a 55 year-old nation still awaiting its first (canonized) saint - pray hard for us!!