St. Padre Pio spent many long hours in the confessional, "as he listened to the tales of human weakness and misery, comforting, consoling, counseling, strengthening, inspiring, and sending men and women back into the battle of life with a new resolve, a new vision, and a new ally." (J. McCaffery, "Saints Are Now")
I think sometimes we forget how important it is to our souls to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation, and how much we need the strength we receive from forgiveness of our sins. It is easy to become comfortable with our little indiscretions, white lies, and spiritual aridity. The more we tell ourselves that we don't need to confess, the easier it is to lose the impact that sin actually has on our lives.
An Opus Dei priest, Francis Fernandez, offers us this perspective: "There will appear all the thoughts, imaginings and desires...all those internal weaknesses that perhaps it is difficult for us to recognize now. Jesus Christ will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart, (1 Cor. 4:5). The words, too, that we have sometimes used to prop up our own excellence, at others as the instrument of lies; sometimes a lack of understanding, charity or justice...Christ will look at our lives, examining how we have behaved towards him or towards our fellow men, his brothers...Each human act will then acquire its true dimension - the dimension that it has before God, not that which it had before men."
As a true shepherd, Padre Pio wanted the souls he confessed to be very much aware of the true nature of their hearts, and to make them clean again for their Master. Perhaps we can close out this year with an examination of ourselves and a desire to open our hearts to the cleansing restoration of a good confession.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!