In this final installment of Theology of the Body and “deliverance ministry,” we will look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. We know, through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, that all priests are called by Jesus Christ to heal the sick and cast out demons. We also know that does not mean every priest will be involved in or is called to administer the Church’s Rite of Major Exorcism. However, it does mean that all priests are meant to use the power of their Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders through the grace and Name of Jesus Christ, to bind up, renounce and cast out evil spirits with Minor Exorcisms. We also know that one good confession is worth more than a hundred exorcisms. So, there must be some supernatural power in this Holy Sacrament.
First and foremost we, as priests of the Sacred Order of Jesus Christ, must avail ourselves to the Sacrament of Confession as often as possible, weekly for sure. Not only do we continuously receive His forgiveness and healing, but it is a good example to another brother priest who may not go very often himself. As we receive healing and grace, we begin to be more open to offering this great sacrament more frequently to others. If we’re not going often ourselves, how will our parishioners go? If we don’t know the importance and mercy of God, how will we be able to preach on it to others? How will our parishioners know the importance of the sacrament, if we only offer it 30-60 minutes a week? How often are we in meetings? How often are we in the confessional box? Pope Benedict XVI said you could tell the health of a parish not by the size of the communion lines, but by the size of the lines for confession, more people indicates a healthier parish.
Secondly brothers, can you tell how Satan and his minions manifest themselves in the confessional in an extra-ordinary or even in a subtle or ordinary way? Extra-ordinary may be somewhat easier to see or hear, but how about when its not so easy? Do you know what to look for in the penitent’s behavior? One thing I notice is when people are having trouble remembering what to say, if they seem very embarrassed or truly afraid to say what needs to be said, this could be diabolical blocks to confess. Look for rationalizing in the sacrament, even subtle arguing or disagreeing with you. Where do you think this comes from? Could it be-you know who? No, Satan is NOT under every rock, but he’s under most of them, it’s time the priest of Jesus Christ start recognizing it, me too. Sometimes people will even say a bad word or start tempting you, beware who is trying to disrupt the sacrament or even invalidate it by the hiding or blocking the penitent from confessing all of the sin or hide part of it. What do we do as priests?
As a priest of Jesus Christ, we have much power in His Holy Name. While the person is struggling, you can pray binding/renunciation prayers silently to take more control and free the penitent, our brother/sister in Christ, to confess freely. As a priest you have many minor exorcism prayers at your disposal and can even avail yourself to the Pope Leo XIII prayer when you have sufficient time. You should also have a Benedictine crucifix with you in the confessional and pray a prayer of protection for yourself before going into the confessional. Sometimes you can recommend to the penitent lay versions of deliverance prayers for them to pray themselves, since they have authority over themselves due to their baptism and confirmation in the Name of Jesus, especially those bound up in habitual sin and vice. If the penitent is in front of you, you can place your blessed purple stole of their head while giving absolution or when offering an extra prayer of healing after the sacrament. You can also carry a small vile of exorcism oil to bless the penitent on the forehead with it after the sacrament. I also try to remember to bless the confessional before I begin confessions and offer all these people up in prayer afterwards. While it is true some people you must pray over silently, if they are struggling, but some I ask permission to do it out loud and they always respond positively. Naturally, age and maturity needs to be taken into account with proper discretion applied on how and what kinds of prayers to pray. You want to always pray silently over children and people with emotional problems as not to alarm or scare them. Fathers, simply remember Jesus was followed around a lot by evil spirits. It shouldn’t surprise us that we priests are, as well. They want to prevent our brothers and sisters from confessing deeply and receiving healing. There is no need for us to be afraid, simply vigilant and attentive and Christ will be with us always. Amen.
Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first ever full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.