The title is a Facebook status that one of my friends once posted. When I saw it, I thought she was asking for prayers because she was about to receive the sacrament of confession. Only after several other friends posted the same status did I realize that some Facebook game, meme, or even virus is going around.
Seriously, though, how often do we help our fellow-Catholics avail of the sacrament of Confession? How many Catholics who have been staying away from the sacrament would go if only someone else would encourage them to go? Perhaps we ourselves have experienced the joy of the sacrament because a friend or relative made us go; have we remembered how happy and grateful we felt afterwards and paid the favour forward?
Helping someone else go to confession involves several spiritual works of mercy and is one of the best things one can do for another. It brings someone else closer to God and benefits the whole Church.
Here are some tips on how to do it:
1) Efforts to get someone else to go to confession should start with prayer and offering up sacrifices. All the eloquent reasons we give will not persuade if not backed up by actual grace.
2) The fact that we ourselves need to go to confession should not hinder us from encouraging someone else to go. In fact, we may better convince another to go if he or she sees that rather than preaching to them from a position of moral superiority, we are accompanying them along this pilgrimage on earth.
3) The crucial step is actually speaking to the person whom we want to encourage to go to confession. It is hard to give general advice on how to do this since each reader would know better how to approach those whom they want to encourage. But in any case, one must not be discouraged by a “no” response. Even if one does not go further than suggesting the sacrament to another, one has already acted as a channel for God’s grace which will work in God’s own time.
4) It helps to review what the Catechism says about confession so that we could answer any question we are asked about it. Aside from the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself, there are many excellent books, pamphlets, online guides (like this one, and this), etc. that we could refer to.
5) Helping another person go to confession may mean helping with the logistics: giving him or her the confession schedules of a priest we know (this may help), setting an appointment with a priest if it is necessary, offering the person a ride to the church, and so forth.
6) It might be a good idea to go for some coffee or a snack with the other person afterwards. In fact, most likely he or she will want to celebrate!
Indeed, helping someone go to confession will make him or her very happy. I should know. I myself do not always find going to confession easy, but I always feel very happy after doing it.