The following homily was delivered Sunday, June 10, 2018 at Sacred Heart Church in Springfield, Illinois, by Rev. Trenton Rauck, S.J.C., Parochial Vicar. Fr. Rauck is a priest of the Chicago-based Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.
I asked Fr. Rauck’s permission to publish his homily here because I think it does exactly what this homiletic service urges: it (1) comments on the salvific meaning of the lectionary readings, (2) teaches about a doctrine of Catholic faith or morals implicit in the readings, and (3) gives us help in putting this doctrine into our lives.
At the beginning of a Mass the priest will address the faithful with the following words: Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
“Let us acknowledge our sins.”
If you notice, the priest does not say, “Let us acknowledge each other’s sins” OR “Let us acknowledge our husband’s or wife’s sins.” But “let us acknowledge our sins.”
Because of our pride, it can be a very difficult thing to do … to acknowledge and admit that we have done wrong, to admit that we are sinners. It has been a challenge for man since the dawn of time. Listen to our first parents as they point their finger at someone else … Adam to God: “Thewoman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” And then Eve to God: “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
Practicing the virtue of humility is an absolute necessity if we are to overcome pride … and the most effective way to practice the virtue of humility that I know of is in that lost art of confessing one’s sins.
First of all when you kneel down in the confessional you are physically taking on a humble posture … kneeling before the Lord.
And then another, more heroic act of humility, to actually confess one’s sins (our own … not someone else’s) … accepting that we are not perfect … but that we desire God’s help in growing in holiness.
Simply confessing one’s sins … without making any excuses (and without giving all of the details surrounding the sin) … simply confessing the sin, is all that is necessary. If the priest requires specific information surrounding a confessed sin in order to help you make a good confession, he will ask. Otherwise, the listing of one’s sins is all that the sacrament requires.
The sacrament of confession is an extremely powerful sacrament. Sin weighs us down, and it blinds us to certain truths of the faith. Removal of the weight of sin in the sacrament of Confession frees us, and opens us up to realities that we had never seen before … nor could we see because of sins blinding effects.
Pope, St. John Paul II, who received the Sacrament of Confession on a weekly basis, once said: “ We live in a society that seems all too often to have lost the sense of God and of sin. Ever more urgent, therefore, is Christ’s invitation to conversion …”.Conversion here is not simply coming into the Catholic Church … the conversion he speaks of here is that ongoing conversion that is required of all of us … converting from habits of sin to a life of virtue.
St. John Paul continues, “It would be an illusion to want to strive for holiness in accordance with the vocation that God has given to each one of us without frequently and fervently receiving this sacrament of conversion and sanctification.”
“Those who make frequent use of Confession and do so desiring to make progress know that in this sacrament, together with God’s forgiveness and the grace of the Holy Spirit, they will receive a precious light for their journey towards perfection.”
Apart from the reception of Our Lord, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I can think of no surer way to grow by leaps and bounds in the spiritual life … to grow in holiness … than to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession.
May that grace which we receive in our good confessions advance us along the way to our eternal reward, freeing us from the weight of our earthly attachments and the pride of life.