Danilo Perez Ngo
SFC: You were saying about the frequency of confession. Before the pandemic, I was in a habit of going weekly. Is there a specific recommendation of how many times we go? Is there such a thing?
Fr Mandía: I base my answer on the experiences of the popes, how they value confession because of the benefits that they get. The more we understand the benefits, the more we understand why we need to go often.
For example, I said earlier, healing takes a long time, so every time we go and say sorry for our sins (that is one requirement for the penitent: to be sorry for their sins and have the desire to change, that is our part to take and do seriously) we are constantly being treated until healing happens.
Another benefit is that since it is a Sacrament, we will receive grace, particularly for the sins for which we are sorry. For example, if the person falls often into backbiting, but he is really sorry for it, and brings it out in confession, we can be sure that the person will receive grace to overcome that habit. We get more grace when we go to confession often. That’s why even if the person doesn’t have great sins, he knows that when he goes to confession, he takes one step closer to holiness. It is not yet holiness yet but it is one step closer.
The third thing, I would say, as one of the benefits, is that it makes us humble. Just to kneel down, in front of a priest, is already humiliating. Humiliation is the path to humility. If we are not humiliated, we will never learn to be humble. When we have been humiliated, we have to learn to say, “Thank you very much, you are helping me to become humble and become more holy.”
Something that I keep in mind as a confessor is that if a penitent comes and kneels, he shows that he is already sorry and that he wants to change. Why do I say that? Because there are instances in which the priest can deny absolution if he thinks that the penitent doesn’t seem sorry for his sins. He just has to look for that small opening so he can encourage the penitent to come back again and again so that healing takes place. The priest just has to be patient even if the same sins are repeated.