Friday, September 18, 2020 –
Over the next two days I am going to cover specific “times of prayer,” for lack of a better phrase. Basically, I want to take two very important “things” we do as Catholics—going to Confession and going to Mass—and talk about how the expressions of prayer and the forms of prayer work within those contexts.
Today, we will go over the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession. We are going to go beyond the matter and form of Penance and talk about the whole nut from start to finish. Ahem, for those that need a refresher, the matter is the acts of the penitent (your sins, your sorrow, and your satisfaction AKA your penance), and the form is the words of absolution from the Priest. But again, we want to look at the WHOLE picture and relate it to our expressions and forms of prayer.
As a reminder, here is our base outline for each:
Section I: Expressions of Prayer
- External Prayer
- Internal Prayer
Section II: Forms of Prayer
- Petition (supplication)
So, let’s start with our examination of conscience because that is where every good Confession starts. Actually, let’s back up one step and start with simply entering the Church.
As you come in, you take some Holy Water on your finger and sign yourself with the Sign of the Cross (that is when we are not in a pandemic and our Sacramentals haven’t been yanked from our Churches, but I digress). You sign yourself with the Sign of the Cross, then genuflect toward the Tabernacle. This simple act is a BLESSING and ADORATION. You recognize God’s greatness and bend your knee before your Creator!
Next, you enter a pew and take a deep breath. Kneel down and simply **be** with Christ in the Tabernacle for a minute (CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER).
Now, take a moment to thank the Lord for all the good He has given you and for the holy Priest who will hear your Confession (THANKSGIVING). You should also pray for your Priest to have strength to do God’s work; pray for the Priest’s health and intentions (INTERCESSION). Side note: if you are not thanking the Lord for His holy Priests and praying for them and their needs, you should!
You now begin your examination of conscience. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you to make a full and contrite confession (PETITION). Take a few minutes in MEDITATIVE PRAYER to think about each of your sins and how you can do better.
Next, you will enter the confessional and tell your sins to the Priest in kind and number. He will give you a penance and ask you to say your Act of Contrition out loud (VOCAL PRAYER). For those that need a refresher, here is the Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.
The Act of Contrition touches on a few of the forms of prayer. The easiest to recognize are PETITION and PRAISE:
- PETITION: “…I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee,…”
- PRAISE: “…my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love…”
Once you are done and the Priest absolves you, go back to a pew and complete your penance (VOCAL PRAYER). You should again pray for the Priest (INTERCESSION) who heard your Confession and thank the Lord for His holy Priests and the Sacrament of Penance (THANKSGIVING).
Finally, take another moment in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle to simply **BE** with the Lord (CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER). And, of course, as you leave, again genuflect toward the Tabernacle, followed by signing yourself with Holy Water (BLESSING and ADORATION).
And there you have it! You just rolled through ALL of the expressions and forms of prayer. Tomorrow we will do the same thing with the Mass, but maybe a slightly different format. Who knows!? You will just have to come back to find out! Muahaha!
Mother most amiable, pray for us!