An Interview with Susan Tassone
We have been living in unprecedented times with the Covid-19 pandemic and that has meant at times the limitation of the sacrament’s availability. For months, Mass was celebrated virtually and continues to be since many do not believe it safe to return to Mass due to underlying health conditions. Covid-19 began during the season of Lent, a time when many Catholics avail themselves with the sacrament of Reconciliation. When is the last time you went to confession? Has the pandemic impacted that? Are you ready to go now? November is an excellent opportunity because of the indulgence for the Holy Souls and soon December and the Advent season will be upon us, another opportunity for us to find time to reclaim the importance of confession in our life.
Susan Tassone’s book, Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You, helps us to hear the words of Jesus contained in the Saint’s Diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul. What does Jesus have to tell us about going back to confession, whether we have been away for months or recently confessed our sins? Let’s find out.
The Church still believes in and promotes something called indulgences, the treasury of grace which the Church dispenses for pious actions and devotions. Did Jesus say anything about indulgences? And November is a time we can obtain indulgences for the Holy Souls, usually only for the first eight days, but this year the Vatican has extended the Holy Souls indulgence for the entire month of November.
Susan Tassone: Jesus says: “Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.” (Diary, 1226).
Why do we have indulgences? Their purpose is to make up for penances omitted, poorly done or too light in comparison with the enormity of the sins. Blessed Fulton Sheen explained: “It is like a nail in a board. Once you remove the nail—the sin—with confession, the hole which is the punishment remains to be filled by penance and reparation.” Indulgences arise from the mercy of Jesus; with them we can satisfy our debts and the debts of the holy souls. They are an aid for growth toward spiritual perfection, inner change, or a deeper conversion of heart. We can do this “repair work” here on earth or in Purgatory. By going to confession regularly, we can gain many plenary indulgences for the holy souls, healing all the effects of their sins.
I think many of us put off going to Confession. The reasons might be numerous. Maybe we don’t have enough time with all the responsibility we juggle (but honestly, we probably do have time). It could be that we had a bad experience once. Or maybe we are simply afraid. What advice does Jesus have to encourage us to stop delaying our confession?
Susan Tassone: Jesus talks about this. St. Faustina records His words: “Do not put off the Sacrament of Penance, because this displeases me.” (Diary, 1464)
Going to confession isn’t always at the top of our “to do” lists. We delay. The Church recommends monthly confession, but many people can’t even remember the last time they went to confession. Jesus tells us that putting off the Sacrament of Penance displeases him. He wants us to take advantage of the sacrament, not for his sake, but for our sake. We are in the presence of the Divine Physician, who can truly heal our deepest wounds.
Jesus understands that it isn’t easy to go to confession. We don’t like to admit our faults. It’s hard to acknowledge our failures and sins. We can feel ashamed, embarrassed, or even unworthy of God’s mercy. If you find yourself staying away from confession, remember that confession isn’t a punishment; it’s a grace. Be humble and trust him. It’s the way that we experience the unlimited mercy of God. Confess your sins and rest in God’s forgiveness for your sake, and the sake of the entire world.
What if a person is afraid to confess their sins because they are embarrassed about something they did. What should they do?
Susan Tassone: Jesus tells St. Faustina: “Be absolutely as frank as possible with your confessor.” (Diary, 1499) This is great advice. Don’t hide anything. Reveal everything. St. Faustina teaches us to be sincere, humble and obedient when we confess our sins in God’s Tribunal of Mercy. Open your heart with complete sincerity when you confess your sins, so Jesus can bring his solace and richest graces. Don’t be afraid to tell your sins. God knows everything already. Come to Confession with total confidence in your merciful Savior. When we confess our sins, we’ve got to strip ourselves of pride; otherwise, the soul “puts on a mask and avoids everything that might bring it recovery.” (Diary, 113)
I spoke with a priest and asked him to share his thoughts on this passage. He said: Walking toward St. Peter’s Basilica, you cross the Tiber River. As you walk over the Sant’Angelo Bridge, you see this inscription: Hinc humilibus venia. “Here, there’s forgiveness for the humble.” Hinc retribuito superbis. “Here, there’s punishment for the proud.” As you enter the confessional, keep these words in mind. Want to make a good confession? Be humble and honest. Keep confession simple. When we confess sin, exhaustive detail isn’t necessary. We shouldn’t be vague or hide our sins. We ought to just say plainly what we did and leave it at that. Want to be close to God? Want to enjoy peace of heart? St. Faustina advises that we be frank with our confessor, because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
A person reading this might have found this article through a Google search and are looking for inspiration to make a good confession and strength to do so. Others probably are Catholics who go to Confession regularly and pray daily. What advice do you have for them?
Susan Tassone: Jesus tells St. Faustina: “Pray for souls that they be not afraid to approach the Tribunal of My mercy. Do not grow weary of praying for sinners. You know what a burden their souls are to My Heart. Relieve My deathly sorrow; dispense my mercy” (Diary, 975).This is what we should do: pray for the Catholic faithful to go to Confession. Pray for long lines.
A man was standing in line, waiting his turn to go to Confession. He was noticeably nervous about confessing his sins. The fellow standing behind him, who’d already offered a little prayer for him, leaned over and whispered: “Satan’s the only one who should be anxious about confession. Be at peace.” There’s nowhere we’re more loved than in the Tribunal of Mercy. There we’re wrapped in the Father’s mercy. Jesus comes to us, knocking on the door of our hearts, with a hand that was pierced for our sins. He’ll heal our souls if we come humbly like the publican, who fell to his knees, beat his breast, and with eyes downcast, pleaded “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” No one approaches the confessional in “good shape,” because, as St. John Chrysostom said: “Even if we reach the summit of virtue, we are saved only by God’s mercy.” Pray for reluctant souls, because in the Tribunal of Mercy, God works his greatest miracles.
Fr. Looney’s Closing Thoughts
In the gospels Jesus gave authority to the apostles to forgive sins and that has been given to each priest. When we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation and hear those words, “I absolve you from your sins” we know we are forgiven. Everybody wants to have peace of heart, mind, and soul. Confession and knowing we are forgiven is one key to all of this. Listen to the words of Jesus as given to St. Faustina and celebrate the sacrament of God’s mercy as soon as you are able!
You can get a copy of Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You from Sophia Institute Press.
Editor’s note: Susan Tassone’s latest book, Jesus Speaks to Faustina and You, is available from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press. We also recommend her book, Day by Day with Saint Faustina: 365 Reflections.
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