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It’s Advent. Go to Confession

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A woman goes to confession in darkness at the start of the Easter Vigil led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in 2016. Part of our conversion must be stripping ourselves of all pride and facing up to who we are in front of Who Jesus is. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

Last year I said that the Australian Catholic bishops should issue a pastoral letter on the First Sunday of Advent, calling the entire Catholic population of Australia to repentance and sacramental Confession.

I thought this would make a great act of atonement for all the clergy sexual abuse committed across the country in the last 50 years.

I’m disappointed that they didn’t take me up on this offer, so I’ll just have to issue the invitation in my Catholic Weekly column instead.

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Here’s my pastoral letter for you all – and for myself as well.

Dear People of God – It’s high time you repented and came to Confession.

Most of you haven’t been for ages, and that’s a real shame.

I can hear you complaining that you don’t do anything worth confessing. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

You gossip and backbite.

You fudge your tax returns and make dodgy insurance claims.

You don’t give to reputable charities.

You look at porn.

You’ve bumped into other people’s cars in car parks and then driven off without apologising.

“So now that you’ve had a moment to consider – do you think you might make the effort to go to Confession before Christmas this year?”

You’ve left debts unpaid.

You’ve assumed the worst about people.

You do zero penance on any Friday – except Good Friday, when you gorge on hot cross buns instead.

You do avoidable work on a Sunday without real need.

You neglected to discipline your children and then inflicted them on adults in confined spaces.

You purchased too many groceries at times of national shortage and left others with nothing.

You’ve wasted hours of time scrolling through social media, envying other people’s bodies and houses and lifestyles.

You’ve ignored your spouse and children to play video games for hours.

You’ve spent thousands of dollars on things you don’t need.

You’ve then hoarded your unused possessions, rather than at least trying to share them with people who could use them.

You grumble when you are crossed in the slightest way.

You’ve bullied your co-workers and then pretended it was a joke.

You’ve underpaid your workers.

Father Timothy Mockaitis and penitent Ethan Alano demonstrate how a confession is conducted. The Sacrament of Confession, as Steven discovered, offers a powerful healing of serious sin, especially addictive sins. Photo: CNS, Chaz Muth

You live in a fantasy world where you are the only person who can do anything right, and everything is always other people’s fault.

You create dramas to remain the centre of attention.

You’ve wasted money on gambling that could have been used by those who really needed it.

You’re rude to ‘unimportant people’ like elderly relatives and wait-staff and cashiers and cleaners.

You’ve missed Mass for no good reason (which is a mortal sin), or come late, or left early, or talked all the way through.

You’ve betrayed confidences.

You’ve pilfered items from your work.

You’ve strung someone along in a relationship to bolster your vanity.

You’ve told untruths and manipulated people.

You’ve trolled and picked fights on social media.

You constantly (and rudely) come late to appointments and parties.

You drug yourself with hours of mindless screen-based entertainment that glorifies casual sex and violence.

“You are so precious in His sight that He spent thousands of years carefully preparing the entire planet for His arrival in human form, just to save you.”

You take pleasure in other people’s misfortunes and hold grudges.

You’ve deliberately dressed to attract attention, whether modestly or not.

You inflict your crank diets on your long-suffering family.

You work hard to ensure that you always get your own way.

You expect other people to pick up after you.

Above all, you make the most pathetic litany of excuses for yourself when you do any of the above.

So now that you’ve had a moment to consider – do you think you might make the effort to go to Confession before Christmas this year?

Do you think you might have a few things to share with the Lord Who has loved you patiently throughout all your stupidity and malice and carelessness?

When you put these failures in love before Him, you will see them for what they really are – awful, petty actions that injured others and took away your human dignity as a child of God.

Most of them aren’t mentioned in the Ten Commandments, but they’re sins nonetheless – sins against the love of God and the love of neighbour.

You are so loved by God. You are so precious in His sight that He spent thousands of years carefully preparing the entire planet for His arrival in human form, just to save you.

Show him the things you’re ashamed of. Let Him fix them up for you. It will take time and effort, because you didn’t get into such a bad state overnight.

Lots of little bad decisions got you here. So the first little good decision you can make is to go to Confession before Christmas. (Happy last week of Advent! PS: Go to Confession.)

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