Frequent Confession and Communion
1. Among the efficacious means of self-sanctification are frequent Confession and Holy Communion. Confession purifies the soul of sin, into which unfortunately we continue to fall, and confers sacramental grace, through which we are fortified against the assaults of the devil. It also gives us an opportunity of being guided on the right road by our Confessor, who knows our secret failings and will give us in God’s name words of encouragement, comfort, and spiritual direction. We should frequently receive this sacrament of God’s mercy; in fact, those who are striving after holiness should go to confession every week or at least every fortnight. Even if we have not committed grave sin, when we examine ourselves before God we shall find many faults and failings. The Holy Spirit reminds us that even the just man sins seven times a day, which means many times. “The just man falls seven times.” (Prov. 24:16) “If we say that we have no sin,” writes St. John, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Since, then, we are all poor sinners and Jesus in His infinite goodness has given us this means of purifying our souls, we should not neglect to use it to remain in the state of grace. Frequent confession is not difficult. On the contrary, if we have the proper disposition, it can be a great comfort and consolation to us. There is no greater solace than to possess the grace of God and to be pure and free from all sin. Furthermore, by remaining in venial sin we are in danger of drifting gradually into more grievous sin and into a state of tepidity, which is so dangerous as well as so displeasing to God.
2. Frequent confession keeps us prepared for a good and holy death. We do not know when our lives will end, and therefore it is necessary to keep ourselves pure and free from sin in the sight of God. We know that death will come to us when we least expect it, as the Gospel assures us, and it will come like a thief. It is necessary to be always ready for the great encounter with our Eternal Judge. In that way the natural fear of death will be diminished. Being free from sin through the infinite mercy of God, we shall face with greater courage the journey into eternity and we shall realise that the good sister Death has come to release us from bondage and to save us from the danger of ever offending God again.
3. The purifying and reforming action of frequent Confession is completed by the practice of receiving Communion as frequently as possible.
Sacramental Confession gives us the grace of God, while Holy Communion gives us the Author of that grace, Jesus Christ, living and really present, Who comes to dwell in our poor hearts. How can anybody who goes frequently to Confession and Communion commit sin? How can any man cast himself once more into the clutches of the devil after experiencing the heavenly consolation of the Eucharist? Do not protest that we are not worthy to go to Holy Communion frequently… It is true that we are not worthy, but we have a great need of this divine nourishment. If we wait until we are worthy, we shall never approach the Sacred Banquet; but if we realise our need of Jesus, we shall want to receive Him every day. This was the practice of the early Christians, who were persevering in prayer and in the ‘Breaking of Bread,’ that is, in receiving Holy Communion. From the Divine Eucharist they gained the courage to endure martyrdom. A good life is a slow martyrdom; we who must be virtuous have a continual need of Holy Communion, the food of the strong.