The first purification to be made is from sin;--the means whereby
to make it, the sacrament of penance.
Seek the best confessor within your reach, use one of the many
little books written in order to help the examination of
conscience. (1) Read some such book carefully, examining point by
point wherein you have sinned, from the first use of your reason
to the present time. And if you mistrust your memory, write down
the result of your examination.
Having thus sought out the evil spots in your conscience,
strive to detest them, and to reject them with the greatest
abhorrence and contrition of which your heart is capable;--bearing
in mind these four things:--that by sin you have lost God's Grace,
rejected your share in Paradise, accepted the pains of Hell, and
renounced God's Eternal Love.
You see, my child, that I am now speaking of a general
confession of your whole life, which, while I grant it is not
always necessary, I yet believe will be found most helpful in the
beginning of your pursuit after holiness, and therefore I
earnestly advise you to make it. Not unfrequently the ordinary
confessions of persons leading an everyday life are full of great
faults, and that because they make little or no preparation, and
have not the needful contrition.
Owing to this deficiency such people go to confession with a
tacit intention of returning to their old sins, inasmuch as they
will not avoid the occasions of sin, or take the necessary
measures for amendment of life, and in all such cases a general
confession is required to steady and fix the soul. But,
furthermore, a general confession forces us to a clearer
selfknowledge, kindles a wholesome shame for our past life, and
rouses gratitude for God's Mercy, Which has so long waited
patiently for us;--it comforts the heart, refreshes the spirit,
excites good resolutions, affords opportunity to our spiritual
Father for giving the most suitable advice, and opens our hearts
so as to make future confessions more effectual.
Therefore I cannot enter into the subject of a general change
of life and entire turning to God, by means of a devout life,
without urging upon you to begin with a general confession.
||S. Francis suggests Grenada, Bruno, Arias,
Augez, authors little known now, though we have the substance
of their teaching in numerous valuable helps for those who are
preparing for confession: such as "Pardon through the Precious
Blood," "Helps for Confirmation and First Communion"
(Masters), "Manual for Confession," "Repentance," (Rev. T. T.
Carter), "Hints to Penitents" (Palmer), Brett's "Guide to
Faith and Piety," Crake's "Bread of Life" (Mowbray), "Paradise
of the Christian Soul," etc.