Philippa Martyr: Let’s prepare the way of the Lord. Go to Confession

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What if our bishops’ conference released a brief letter ... which would ask all of us to go to individual Confession this Advent to repair the damage that’s been done to the Church by our sins., asks Philippa Martyr. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
What if our bishops’ conference released a brief letter … which would ask all of us to go to individual Confession this Advent to repair the damage that’s been done to the Church by our sins., asks Philippa Martyr. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

At last, some long overdue joy! This week I’m continuing with some concepts I think the Plenary Council forgot to discuss.

If we are to be a humbler and converted Church in future, we won’t achieve that with six figure salaries for professional Catholics and grandstanding about climate change.

We will become a humbler Church – and a stronger and healthier Church – when individual Catholics face honestly who they really are, repent of their actual personal sins, and go to Confession.

So let’s prepare the way of the Lord.

“Your individual confession would contribute to a public collective act of atonement for the Church’s past failings.”

What if our bishops’ conference released a brief letter to be read from every pulpit in Australia on the First Sunday of Advent?

This letter would ask all of us to go to individual Confession this Advent to repair the damage that’s been done to the Church by our sins. It would explain that when we do this, we strengthen and invigorate the entire Church.

Your individual confession would contribute to a public collective act of atonement for the Church’s past failings. It would also be a genuine step forward in calling people back to the practice of individual Confession.

This letter would take almost no time to produce and cost almost nothing to distribute, especially if it was just one A4 page with no word salad. Every parish and chaplaincy would then schedule times when people could come and do exactly this.

Humility is not denying your talents or beating yourself up. Humility consists in seeing yourself as you really are - a tiny, flawed dot in the universe, says Philippa Martyr.
Humility is not denying your talents or beating yourself up. Humility consists in seeing yourself as you really are – a tiny, flawed dot in the universe, says Philippa Martyr.

Real joy is one of the hallmarks of the true Christian. And you arrive at real joy through – wait for it – repentance and conversion.

We find personal repentance and Confession hard and uncomfortable because we lack humility. Humility is seriously misunderstood, and you won’t hear sermons on it. Possibly these two facts are connected.

Humility is not denying your talents or beating yourself up. Humility consists in seeing yourself as you really are – a tiny, flawed dot in the universe.

Humility is so important to our salvation that God gives us a choice. You can humble yourself, or you can be humbled by God (Matt 23:12; Jas 4:10; 1 Pet 5:6).

“Once you’ve limped across the line of repentance, God catches you up in His arms. And then there’s room for joy, once you get over yourself.”

We know which way the Church in Australia has chosen over the last 50 years. It’s been humbled by the Lord with external punishment. Our bishops should be painfully aware of this.

Joy, on the other hand, comes from a clear conscience. And this comes from the humility that goes hand in hand with repentance.

Once you’ve limped across the line of repentance, God catches you up in His arms. And then there’s room for joy, once you get over yourself. Joy is when you realise that the same tiny, flawed dot is unique and loved infinitely by God. It gives you the energy to serve others, the wisdom to leave some things alone, and the peace of soul to sleep well at night.

I’d suggest that this simple measure would be a real step towards a happier and more joyful Church – and Christmas. It’s another way Catholics can and should be different.

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