Previous Months' Topics

Making a Good Confession

“Say you’re sorry – like you mean it.”

How often do you find yourself using these words with your children? Big brother hits little brother. The smaller daughter knocks down the doll house of the bigger one. Someone throws a temper tantrum and the whole house goes into a frenzy.

As parents, we want to restore order, set things right, and make sure some sort of justice is done. We usually set the standard at reconciliation between the offending and offended parties.

“Say you’re sorry.” Apology given.

“Say, I forgive you.” Apology accepted. 

While insisting on reconciliation, we are trying to teach our kids more than good manners. We are trying to teach them about the natural order of human relationships. This means more than teaching them “to get along” with others and be a productive member of society – as important as these are to healthy living.

By insisting on reconciliation, we are teaching them something about how God wants us to live, and how God wants us to love.

The big question for parents today is: Do I apply the standards of reconciliation to my own life? How do I as an adult, “Say I’m sorry – like I mean it?”

Examination of Conscience

This is where it all begins – in the heart and mind; in that sacred space of self-awareness and self-assessment that we call conscience.

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes conscience:

“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. It’s voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment … For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God … His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths” (1776).

Before you try to comprehend this deep definition, I think the first response should be WOW! We have within ourselves the voice of God echoing in our depths. This fact alone should tell us something about the kind of creature man is – his high calling and destiny.

Sacrament of Confession

But let’s leave it at that for now, and get to the practical matter of “Making a Good Confession.”

The Sacrament of Confession is for the forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism. For most of us, given our weak human nature, it is a very necessary sacrament, and one that should be used often.

Unfortunately, many Catholics have stopped going to Confession regularly, or have stopped going at all. Obviously, people still sin – they just have less of a sense of the seriousness of sin and the need for sacramental reconciliation.

If you have not been to Confession in a while, now is the time to start. Do it for you own soul’s sake. Do it for your wife’s sake – in sacramental Confession you receive the grace to help you avoid sin in the future. Do it for the sake of your children. As a father, you set the moral and religious example in the house. If the see their dad humbly lay himself before God in Confession, they will learn a real lesson about the true strength of a man. A true man stands strong before the world but bows before God.

Fathers for Good has produced a handy pamphlet called “Guide to Confession for Fathers” which you can download from the website. You can also order free printed copies for your home, your parish and your Knights of Columbus council. It bears the imprimatur of Bishop William Lori, the Supreme Chaplain.

Return to Confession, and hear the words: “Your sins are forgiven … Go in peace.”