The Sacrament of Penance not only responds to deep human needs, it is also a source of many blessings. Before we confess our sins we need to examine our conscience thus we discover in what ways we have failed to respond to God’s love for us. We become better acquainted with ourselves and discover how we fail and how we repeatedly fail. In this way we grow in self-knowledge This in itself is a great blessing. The examination of conscience, together with the act of confessing our sins, helps us to grow in humility, in the truth about how we really are, including our faults. St Teresa of Avila says: “The devil has as his chief mission to make us proud”, He often succeeds in his mission. There is no doubt that left to our own devices we can develop an exaggerated sense of our self-worth and a diminished realisation of our defects… “We should go to confession frequently so that we can grow in humility and come to the awareness of our true worth. Also, in confession, we grow in sincerity or truthfulness. To face our sinfulness frankly in the examination of conscience and to tell

the priest in clear terms what we have done is a means of growing in sincerity. Obviously we don’t have to mention all the minute details, but when the sin is mortal we must at least mention the species and number of times we have committed the sin. Sometimes we can find it hard to be sincere with others, but our experience in being sincere with God in confession can help to make it easier”.

Perhaps the most obvious fruit of confession itself is forgiveness of our sins. We have sinned against the infinite majesty and love of God, and by ourselves, we would have no way correcting this matter  Commenting on the difference between human courts and the tribunal of God, Saint Josemaria Escriva, wrote in his popular book The Way, “What depths of mercy there are in God’s justice! For, in the judgments of men, he who confesses his fault is punished; and in the judgment of God, he is pardoned.” This sacrament is truly, in the words of Saint Josemaria, “a miracle of God’s love”. I want to point out that the most glorious fruit confession is sanctifying grace, which we first received in the Sacrament of Baptism. When we make a good confession the sanctifying grace of our Baptism is restored or increased. I ought to point out that Sanctifying grace is a sharing in God’s own life which sanctifies us and makes us pleasing to God. We are all called to be saints, and we are sanctified by God’s life within us. One might say that this alone would give more than sufficient reason to go to confession frequently.  To sanctifying grace we must add actual grace, which is the bountiful help of God to do good deeds and to avoid committing sin. The actual grace, or sacramental grace, of confession, is the special help to avoid committing the sins we have confessed. It is not that we will be able to avoid them completely–for we are not perfect–but we receive the help of grace to be stronger in struggling against them.  Down through the ages, this is the experience of anyone who goes regularly to confession. By and large, following confession, we are much more successful in avoiding falling again in the same way. Helped by this sacramental grace, confession gives us a new beginning in the spiritual struggle each time we go