Wednesday 4th March 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… The Real Problem Is In Our Hearts

August 2, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

7 Secrets of Confession, by Vinny Flynn, MercySong/Ignatius, 208 pages; visit Ignatius.com or call 1-800-651-1531 for price and ordering information.

+    +    +

A follow-up to the author’s very successful 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, his new book 7 Secrets of Confession seeks to make the Sacrament of Confession into a more meaningful encounter with God’s mercy, rather than just a ritual to be reluctantly gone through, most probably with the same old “shopping list” of sins.
Because Vinny Flynn isn’t afraid to relate his own experiences regarding Confession, both good and bad, you don’t feel he is preaching at you; rather he comes across as someone trying to help Catholics to have a deeper understanding of the sacrament. He wants to get across the idea that Confession, instead of being something we endure because we have to, should rather be seen as something we want to do.
He focuses initially on what sin actually is — that it isn’t just about behavior, but also about our relationship with God, who is our loving Father.
As he says: “Sin is when we refuse to let God father us,” and so, “the real problem is in our hearts, in our refusal to accept and respond to the Father’s love.”
God never stops loving us, no matter what we do, and our sinful behavior doesn’t change God in any way; rather it separates us from His love. So sin is when we deliberately turn away from God. But since He has given us free will, He allows us to do that; and so the remedy for sin is a change of heart, a turning back to God.
To illustrate this, the author uses an idea from St. John of the Cross, that God is like the sun shining on our house, always there; but if we keep the curtains shut we won’t see it. Likewise God’s love is always being poured out on us, but we have the capacity to accept or reject it.
Vinny Flynn looks, too, at the principle of forgiveness, and emphasizes that God wants to do much more than just forgive our sins in Confession, as important as that is. There should also be a focus on healing as a primary purpose of the sacrament. That is, God want not only to forgive us, but also to “heal us of the attitudes, disordered desires, problems, and wounds that are causing us to keep committing . . . sins.”
And as he points out, this is actually the teaching of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts Confession in the category of “Sacraments of Healing” (CCC nn. 1421, 1484), giving us an image of Christ as a great physician rather than a harsh judge.
Flynn emphasizes that we need to understand that even after our sins have been forgiven in Confession, because of our “woundedness,” we still need healing, and so we should see the sacrament at part of a process of healing.
The book has a very useful discussion of mortal and venial sin and a reminder that, ultimately, only God can distinguish between the two in any given case.
Flynn also points out the need to develop a positive spirituality — and not just a list of things we shouldn’t do — if we are to have real spiritual growth and holiness in our lives, that is, we should be seeking to do the things God wants us to do, rather than just avoiding evil. As he says: “We need to get beyond the Commandments, beyond focusing merely on behavior to focus on our personal response to God.”
He also stresses the importance of seeing Confession as a personal encounter with Christ, with the priest acting in the person of Christ. And of course, where Christ is, the other persons of the Trinity are there too, and so when we confess our sins and receive forgiveness and healing, the whole of Heaven rejoices.
Confession too, puts us in intimate touch with the events of Calvary, 2,000 years ago — Christ died then, but we receive His forgiveness now. And in fact there is an intimate relationship between Confession and the Eucharist, given that both sacraments were instituted in the same place — the Cenacle in Jerusalem — with Christ instituting Confession on the very evening of His Resurrection (John 20:19-23).
And as Flynn reminds us, we shouldn’t doubt God’s mercy: “If you have sincerely repented of your sins, confessed them, resolved not to repeat them, and received absolution, then they’re not just forgiven, they’re gone!”
He also underlines the point that Confession should lead to a dramatic change in our lives, a totally new attitude toward God on our part. Otherwise, “. . . the sacrament can all too easily become a kind of mindless mechanical observance, in which I simply confess my bad behaviors and receive absolution. Confessing my sins is not enough; I need to make a firm resolution to change.”
Flynn quotes St. John Paul II, to the effect that we should see our sacramental penance as a personal commitment to begin a new life, and not reduce it to a mere formula to be recited, and also that even after absolution we remain wounded by sin, and so need to resort to mortification and penance.

Our Idols

Likewise, in a chapter entitled, “You have to let go of your chains,” he looks at the barriers to our making such a change, which include anything which we set up as an idol in place of God, be it career, appearance, social life — anything which stops us from putting God at the center of our lives.
In particular, he points out that a failure to forgive others on our part sets up a huge barrier to receiving God’s mercy ourselves, and this includes feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, and resentment. All of these things have to be given to Christ on the cross in prayer, so that we can be liberated from them.
Flynn is insistent that the more often we go to Confession, the greater will be our growth in grace, providing we see the sacrament as an opportunity to radically change our lives. He points out that Pope St. John Paul II went to Confession weekly, and that recent Popes have encouraged frequent Confession, even for venial sins. He also highlights the importance of a good examination of conscience, before which we ask our Lady to help us, and also pray for our confessor.
Then we should focus on the root problems behind our habitual sins, those areas of our lives which we have not given to Christ, and where we need to practice forgiveness.
7 Secrets of Confession is written in a very engaging and down to earth way, and in it, Vinny Flynn both distills the wisdom he has learnt from his extensive ministry experiences, and convincingly expounds it.
The book has many useful quotations from the Bible, the Catechism, St. John Paul II, and from St. Faustina’s writings, which give it an air of authority. This is not a book, though, to be rushed through; rather it should be read slowly and prayerfully. Anyone who does that is sure to find it of great benefit spiritually.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Catholic Schools Should Be Catholic, Even in San Francisco

Archbishop Cordileone is predictably blasted for a commonsense policy. If you care to learn how thin our conception of religious liberty has become, look to the Bay Area. In early February, San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone released a statement “regarding…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: CARDINAL BURKE INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

burk10

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed Raymond Cardinal Burke via telephone on numerous topics. Nothing was off the table for this interview and His Eminence was incredibly generous with his time. He showed himself to be brilliant and yet filled with…Continue Reading

Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the…Continue Reading

Oil company hit man has Archbishop Cordileone in his sights

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 27, 2015 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sam Singer’s public relations firm spun a Chevron oil refinery disaster in California and fought back a legal ruling in Ecuador that could have awarded billions of dollars to…Continue Reading

What about Henry VIII?

Interestingly, Jesus’ hard teaching that “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) follows not long after his insistence to Peter on the necessity of forgiveness (see Mt 18:21–35). It is true that Jesus did…Continue Reading

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance

Fr. Bob (that’s what we’ll call him) was a faithful parish priest for more than 25 years. One day, a process server showed up at the rectory door and handed him a summons and complaint. The complaint alleged that some…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Save Students from Pornography Epidemic, Says Counseling Expert

Catholic colleges and universities owe it to their students to do everything within their power to help combat the destructive effects of pornography, argued Dr. Peter Kleponis in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Kleponis, a licensed clinical…Continue Reading

Imagine: A Catholic Archbishop!

If it weren’t so predictable, it would be infuriating, but because of that, it is infuriating to thinking people. It’s happening again as San Francisco drops the hammer – again – on the Catholic Church and especially Archbishop Cordileone. He’s…Continue Reading

As storm brews, San Fran archbishop strikes back at school guideline critics

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 20, 2015 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Politicians have targeted San Francisco Catholic schools’ teacher standards, but Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says they are a matter of Catholic mission and common sense. “Would you hire a campaign…Continue Reading

University of Scranton to end all abortion coverage

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The University of Scranton plans to end employee health care coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The Times-Tribune of Scranton (http://bit.ly/1JstU9i ) reports Thursday that the…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Scandals under Fr. Jenkins Are Rooted in Diminished Catholic Faculty, Alumni Say

February 20, 2015, at 11:02 AM  |  By Kimberly Scharfenberger  | Following the election of University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. to his third term, Notre Dame alumni spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to share their…Continue Reading

Cardinal Napier: African Bishops Have Higher Priorities Than Communion for Divorced and Remarried

by CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/19/2015 Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct. 14, 2014. – Bohumil Petrik/CNA ROME — A leading African cardinal says the continent’s bishops want the upcoming Vatican synod to zero in on strengthening…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: Jesus reveals himself, as the perfect icon of the Father

(Vatican Radio) Before the Angelus the Pope recalled Sunday’s Gospel on the Transfiguration in which Jesus “is at the peak of his public ministry. The Holy Father explained that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the ‘Servant of God’ will be fulfilled. The crowds, he added, facing the prospect of a Messiah that does not fit their earthly expectations, abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a liberator…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Judge Not

pope730

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that “we are all sinners” – not “in theory” but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is “a Christian…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Prayers for Syria, Iraq and Venezuela

pope276

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday remembered the people of Syria and Iraq saying “Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news about violence, kidnapping and harassment against Christians reaching us from Syria and Iraq. The Pope went on to say that those facing these situations were not forgotten and prayed that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims would soon be at an end.  …Continue Reading

Pope Francis at the close of the Spiritual Exercises – With a piece of Elijah’s mantle

2015-02-27 L’Osservatore Romano The meditations this morning, Friday 27 February, in Ariccia were the last of the Spiritual Exercises in which the Pontiff and members of the Roman Curia participated. Meditations were led by Carmelite, Fr Bruno Secondin, in the chapel of the House of Divin Maesto belonging to the Pauline Fathers. At the end of his reflection Friday morning, Pope Francis wanted to thank the preacher. “On behalf of everyone, myself included,” the Pope…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “Birth Control For Teens Who Are ‘Doing It Anyway’?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + If pressed, many “family planners” admit that, in an ideal world, all young people would…Continue Reading

Virginia Parish Calls On Catholics . . . Join In An “Affirmation Of Faith” To Pope Francis

By LISA BOURNE FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — A Virginia Catholic parish is publicly affirming Church teaching on marriage and its fidelity to the Church, while at the same time calling on Pope Francis to proclaim and defend the same. In the wake of the October Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, St. John…Continue Reading

Egalitarian Chess

By DONALD DeMARCO A high school principal, let us imagine, who is thoroughly devoted to political correctness, summoned the school’s chess coach into his office. In that venue the following conversation took place. P: I think it is time to bring the game of chess into the 21st century. C: But chess is a timeless…Continue Reading

What If The Government Fears Freedom?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of…Continue Reading

Our Lady And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This article will look at the importance of the modern Marian apparitions, and particularly Fatima, and in this regard, this is what the Church, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 67) says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Root Of Faith Crisis In Rupture Between Life And Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Quite a few years ago, I went hiking in the Alps on the border between Italy and France with a group of reformed drug addicts and their family members. One father brought his two sons who observed my delight as I ran up to the snow line ahead of the group and collected fresh snow…Continue Reading

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. As a longtime subscriber to The Wanderer, I am puzzled that your writers don’t hesitate to criticize and disagree with bishops and cardinals on particular issues, but when it comes to the Pope you automatically close shop, yet he is human just like the bishops and cardinals. There is no teaching in our Church that says one cannot disagree…Continue Reading

God’s “Foolishness” Is Wisdom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sunday Sermon for March 8, 2015 Third Sunday Of Lent (YR B) Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25 John 2:13-25 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about our Lord cleansing the Temple because the people had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The people, naturally, were appalled at this action because the buying and selling…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Seville

By CAROLE BRESLIN Spain is one of two countries located on the Iberian Peninsula. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was the Romans who first called this land “Hispania.” To this land the Romans brought the Latin language, civil organization, and law, as well as the Christian religion. However, as the Roman Empire began to crumble during the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustus Chapdelaine

By CAROLE BRESLIN Christianity has never been warmly welcomed by the authorities in China, but that did not stop the missionaries over the centuries who have gone there to save souls. Christianity has existed in various forms since the Tang Dynasty (eighth century). The first reports of Catholic priests going to China go back to the 13th century. John of…Continue Reading