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Thoughts for the Week
 
 

 

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
13th July 2014

St. Bernard on The Necessity of a Humble Confession

There is a kind of confession all the more calamitous for its subtle concealment of vanity, as when we unhesitatingly reveal our ugly or immoral behaviour, not because we are humble but because we want to appear so. But to seek praise for humility is to destroy the virtue in it. The truly humble man prefers to pass unnoticed rather than have his humility extolled in public.

Some recount past vices as though to express sorrow and repentance for them, but their minds thrill with a secret pleasure, they delude themselves rather than purge their sins; but God is not mocked. Without putting off the old nature they have pretended to put on the new. The old yeast is not extruded and cast out by such a confession, it is simply fixed in its place.

If you are guilty beware of the device of excusing your intention, a thing that is hidden from men's eyes; and do not make light of a fault that is grave; nor ascribe it to another person's influence, since no one is compelled to do what his will disapproves. The first of these manoeuvres is not a confession but a defence; instead of placating, it provokes. The second reveals ingratitude; the more one lessens the fault the more one diminishes the glory of him who forgives it. A favour is bestowed less willingly when it is felt that the recipient will offer but a paltry thanks for what he deems unnecessary. One who devalues the gift is liable to forfeit the pardon that he needs; and the person who, in confession, attempts to minimize his guilt, finds himself in that situation. The example of Adam warns us about the third ruse: he did not deny his guilt, yet he failed to obtain pardon, doubtless because he would make Eve a sharer in his guilt. To involve another in the crime of which you are accused is a form of excuse. The prophet David teaches that this desire to excuse oneself when reprehended, is not merely fruitless but even fraught with danger. He describes excuses for sins as wicked words, and begs and beseeches God to preserve his heart from so great a fault. And rightly so. A man who excuses himself sins against his own interests by rejecting the medicine of forgiveness; with his own mouth he cuts himself off from life. What greater wickedness is there than to take up arms against your own salvation; to stab yourself with the sword-point of your own tongue? If a man is mean to himself, to whom will he be good?"

You must confess your sins in the spirit of faith, that you may confess them with the hope that does not doubt of pardon; to do otherwise would be to condemn rather than justify yourself.