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(c)Anthony Zubac 2018

November 20, 2018

Dear Family of Mary!

November 25, 2012 “Dear children! In this time of grace, I call all of you to renew prayer. Open yourselves to Holy Confession so that each of you may accept my call with the whole heart. I am with you and I protect you from the ruin of sin, but you must open yourselves to the way of conversion and holiness, that your heart may burn out of love for God. Give Him time and He will give Himself to you and thus, in the will of God you will discover the love and the joy of living. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Today we will listen to Fr. Slavko speak about confession. This excerpt comes from his book, “Give Me Your Wounded Heart: A Guide for Confession.”

Chapter 2

A Personal Experience

I am certain that everyone has considered the painful and difficult questions, “Why does sin exist? Why are some things forbidden, and some things presumed to be wrong?”

I am convinced that most of us have been troubled by these questions and have thought that perhaps sin was invented to frighten us, to control us and to manipulate us. Somewhere in the depths of our souls, we have probably questions whether the concept of sin was invented by our elders, our parents, our Church, or someone else in the name of God, so that they can force their wills on us.

It might be clearer if I shared my own experience. When I was in seminary, the simple question, “What makes something sinful?” haunted me. Although I did not speak out about this question for fear of appearing stupid or even godless, it continued to disturb me deeply throughout all the years of my studies. When I became a priest, I took confession very seriously, yet this question continued to haunt me. After listening and sharing with many people, I began to grasp deep within my soul, that most people did not really understand the meaning of sin. When they came to the Sacrament, their confessions were superficial and routine, and it was very difficult to determine if they were truly sorry for their sins.

As a young priest, I went through a further crisis. I asked myself, “Why do we have the sacrament of Confession?” From the pulpit we announce the Good News. We talk about sin and we ask people to renounce sinful habits. Yet, in confession, I rarely heard that someone was truly responding to the call of Christ or to the priest’s sermon, or was convinced that he must stop sinning. Deep in my soul, I asked myself, “Then, why should we preach? Why should we confess?” I wanted to see the lives of penitents change just a little from confession to confession. But I rarely saw much change and my questions regarding confession became stronger and more painful.

In retrospect, I realize that it is just such questions that begin the tension in many priestly vocations, when priests do not discover the true purpose of their vocations, especially the call to reconciliation. I also realize that many Christians have a difficult time with Confession, especially our youth. Then I have to ask again, “Why should we confess to the priest?” It happens repeatedly that many who come to confession only confess unimportant things, and hide the truly important areas of their lives. This has happened to every young man, especially in his years of adolescence. At that time many stop going to confession. Then the priest discovers that those who really need confession are not coming to the Sacrament and those who do come confess only superficially.

I remember one believer who asked to discuss this Sacrament with me. She made it clear that she did not want to confess her sins, but just to discuss things. Her first question was, “Why do I have to confess to the priest who is simply human like myself? I can confess directly to God.” I stood perfectly still for a moment. I felt trapped. I had the same question myself. I did not know how to respond. Finally, I replied: “I have a similar difficulty with confession. I have also wondered why we should confess to a priest who is, after all, only human. Certainly, Confession does not exist to satisfy a priest’s curiosity or desire to know the sins of others. I am convinced that no penitent says anything really new. The priest has heard all sins, all human acts. I have the same concern that you have.”

She was quiet for a moment. Then suddenly we both realized that there must be something more. Surely, the purpose of confession is not simply to expose our sins. There is something much deeper that happens. In confession a meeting takes place between the one who is wounded and the Doctor, between the one who is sinful and the One Who is holy, between the one who has been offended and the One Who gives consolation, between the one who has been humiliated and the One Who elevates the humble, between the one who is hungry, and the One Who satisfies the hungry, between the one who is lost and the One Who leaves the ninety-nine in order to find the lost one, between the one who is in darkness and the one Who is the Light, between the one who has lost the way and the One Who said, “I am the Way,” between the one who is dead and the One who is Life. We talked for a long time, and all the while we were increasing our understanding of confession.

February 25, 1987 “Dear children! Today I want to wrap you all in my mantle and lead you all along the way of conversion. Dear children, I beseech you, surrender to the Lord your entire past, all the evil that has accumulated in your hearts. I want each one of you to be happy, but in sin nobody can be happy. Therefore, dear children, pray, and in prayer you shall realize a new way of joy. Joy will manifest in your hearts and thus you shall be joyful witnesses of that which I and My Son want from each one of you. I am blessing you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

(Fr. Slavko Barbaric. Give Me Your Wounded Heart: a Guide for Confession. Chapter 2)

Isn’t it amazing that a priest who had so many questions about Confession became the spiritual guide for Medjugorje, which is now the Confessional of the World! I find it amazing that Fr. Slavko could be so open with us in his book on Confession, sharing his early questions about this Sacrament of Life. And I must say that Confession is one of the biggest graces flowing out of Medjugorje. Jesus is surely present in each confessional in Medjugorje, waiting for His lost sheep to be found. His mercy abounds, and lives are completely changed!

Thank you, Fr. Slavko, for being so instrumental in creating this Sacramental Oasis for us pilgrims. We will be grateful for all eternity for the Confessions we have experienced in Medjugorje!

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Cathy Nolan
©Mary TV 2018