March 30, 2007

God heals through confession, D’Ambrosio tells audience

Marcellino D’Ambrosio speaks about confession during a March 14 presentation at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

Marcellino D’Ambrosio speaks about confession during a March 14 presentation at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

By Sean Gallagher

The sacrament of reconciliation is an important way that God heals us when we have been wounded by the poison of sin.

This was a central part of the message that Marcellino D’Ambrosio delivered when he spoke on March 14 at Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis as a part of its “Spaghetti and Spirituality” Lenten speaker series.

“The Lord wants to heal us,” said D’Ambrosio, who earned a doctorate in theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., while studying under Cardinal Avery Dulles.

“It’s not just a question of being

forgiven. When we sin, we hurt ourselves and we hurt others. He needs to get in there and heal the wound and get the venom out. That’s what he wants to do for our good.”

D’Ambrosio said that, just as we go to a doctor when we’re very sick, we should also go to confession when we know that we’ve committed a mortal sin, a sin that involves a serious matter and is done knowingly and freely.

However, he also said that confessing only venial sins, while not required by Church law, can be a good practice.

“There’s a difference between the minimum of the law and what’s best for optimal health of the soul,” D’Ambrosio told the 200 people in attendance at the Holy Rosary program. “Do any of you want to drag your rear ends through life just surviving … or do you want to thrive? So why

wouldn’t you want to thrive spiritually?”

D’Ambrosio encouraged his listeners to prepare for reconciliation by

prayerfully examining one’s conscience.

“There is one prayer that God—I guarantee you—will always answer,” he said. “Just ask him, ‘Lord, what am I doing wrong?’ He’ll answer that prayer.

“And you know who sometimes he uses? If you’re really having a problem, ask your spouse, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ ”

D’Ambrosio also suggested

mediating upon scriptural passages such as 1 Cor 13, Ex 10, Mt 5 or Gal 5 when examining one’s conscience.

When a person goes to confession, D’Ambrosio said three things need to be present: contrition, confession of sins and a willingness to do penance.

He said that contrition means both rejecting the sins you have done in the past and intending to avoid them in the future.

In confessing one’s sins, D’Ambrosio said it is important for one not to hold sins back but to confess all the mortal sins that you’ve committed.

“Now if someone is drinking a

cocktail of seven deadly poisons, and decides to take one out and keeps

drinking the other six, can they live? No,” he said. “You’ve got to get rid of all the poison, all the deadly stuff that kills the soul.”

D’Ambrosio then likened penance to physical therapy.

“It’s spiritual exercise to rebuild the muscle of virtue that’s been weakened through sin,” he said.

In closing, D’Ambrosio encouraged his listeners to forgo avoiding confession because of feelings of awkwardness and to see it as it truly is: a gift.

“It’s a gift,” he said. “It’s not a hoop to jump through. It’s not an embarrassment. It’s meant to be a loving gift from a loving Father.

“Who needs confession? Only the people that want to be healed. Only the people that want to be free. I don’t know if that’s you, but count me in.” †

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