Last year in Advent I decided to impersonate the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and issue a rousing pastoral letter calling the faithful to repentance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas.
I think it went well, so I’m going to do it again this year – this time with a few new and improved sins.
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’ve constantly gossiped and backbitten. You’ve fudged your tax returns.
You’ve held grudges. You’ve refused to apologise.
You’ve ignored homeless people. You’ve looked at porn, way more often than you’ll admit.
You’ve pilfered items from work. You’ve wasted hours of time on social media.
You’ve started neighbourhood disputes and made everyone’s lives unpleasant. You’ve left debts unpaid.
You’ve assumed the worst about others. You’ve expected everyone else to pick up after you.
You haven’t done any penance on any Friday. But you’ve done work on a Sunday without real need.
You are married, and yet you’ve flirted. You are a priest, and yet you’ve flirted.
You’ve lied on job application forms. You’ve lied on insurance claim forms.
You’ve hated your former spouse so much that you’ve defamed them to others. You’ve perjured yourself (a mortal sin) to cut off money or property from them.
You’ve made promises you can’t keep. You’ve neglected to discipline your children.
You’ve slacked off at work and distracted other people. You’ve been a careless, scary, road-rage-y driver.
You’ve ignored your spouse and children to zone out in your own personal dream world when you get home from work. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on things you don’t need.
You’ve interrupted, talked over people, snooped, interfered, and generally made a pest of yourself. You’ve made yourself unbearable to people who once loved you.
You’ve bullied your co-workers. You’ve underpaid your employees.
You’ve wasted money on gambling. You’ve hoarded your possessions.
You’ve told untruths and manipulated people. You’ve been rude to “unimportant people” and sucked up to “important people”.
You’ve damaged other people’s property and possessions and made no effort at restitution.
You’ve used people up and then discarded them.
You’ve lived in a fantasy world where you are the only one who can do anything right.
You’ve created dramas to remain the centre of attention.
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 strung someone along in a relationship to bolster your vanity. You’ve trolled and picked fights on social media.
You’ve deliberately dressed to attract attention. You’ve constantly (and rudely) come late to appointments and parties.
You’ve eaten and drunk to excess. You’ve driven home while over the legal limit.
You take pleasure in other people’s misfortunes. You’ve terrorised your spouse behind closed doors.
You’ve inflicted your crank diets on everyone. You’ve worked hard to ensure that you always got your own way.
You’ve been rude, selfish, and ungrateful. Above all, you’ve made 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 dignity and their dignity as children of God.
Many 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 bad decisions got you here. So the first good decision you can make is to go to Confession before Christmas.
(Happy Second Sunday of Advent! PS. Make it a truly merry Christmas and go to Confession.)