fot. Robert Woźniak
There’s really no reason to *not* start Advent with a good confession!
1. New Liturgical Year, New Start
Advent opens the Church’s liturgical calendar. The First Sunday of Advent sets the cycle in motion, beginning a new year. Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a new journey of faith that on the one hand commemorates the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens to its ultimate fulfilment.”
Every confession is a fresh beginning, a new start. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.”
In confession Christ wipes away our sins, opening the door to new life with him.
Pope John Paul II says, “Preparing ourselves to receive him requires first and foremost an attitude of intense and trusting prayer. Making room for him in our hearts demands a serious commitment to convert to his love.”
The sacrament of penance is a powerful prayer, a very great prayer which drives out sin. Casting out the shadows of darkness, we give our hearts over to Christ’s light and love.
3. MEDITATING ON THE LAST DAY
Pope Francis writes, “During Advent we do not just live in anticipation of Christmas; we are also called to rekindle the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ, when he will return at the end of time , preparing ourselves, with consistent and courageous choices, for the final encounter with him. We remember Christmas, we await the glorious return of Christ, and also our personal encounter: the day in which the Lord will call.”
For Christians thinking of Jesus “coming” has a double meaning, a double perspective. We think of Christ’s first coming in Bethlehem. Traditionally, too, we also think of his “coming again in glory” as we say in the Creed.
For many Catholics, confession is a purely penitential exercise. In many places it’s difficult to find convenient, available confessors. Confession demands an examination of conscience, an honest look into the dusty corners of the soul. The priest might not offer any helpful advice, or worse yet, he might be distant or dismissive.
And yet we believe that God works through the sacrament anyway. In Advent all of these aspects of confession can be offered up, given over to God as penance. It suits the character of the season!
5. JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM
How do we walk with Jesus and Mary again to the manger? The most important way is by imitating their closeness to God.
In confession, God draws us very near, pouring out his merciful love. In confession we are brought close to God, we might even say, as if we were standing in the midst of the Holy Family in Bethlehem!
6. DON’T WAIT!
Last-minute Advent confessions are as painful as last-minute Christmas shopping. The best reason to begin Advent with a confession is that you won’t be scrambling in the mad rush before Christmas!!! You too can avoid long lines by taking the time to confess today!