One morning, as we carried out our morning lectio divina before school, the topic of repentance came up. We had been reading the Scripture of Luke 7: 36-50 called “The Pardon of the Sinful Woman.” Unlike the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner, the unwanted, unworthy, and unexpected woman lavished Jesus with love. She cried all over his feet, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with perfume. Criticized by the Pharisee, Jesus told a parable that focused on the degree of love in proportion to the amount forgiven.
Frequent, sacramental confession is essential for those who desire to grow in holiness and is necessary for salvation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church” (§1497). Yet, what if one honestly can’t get to confession because of COVID restrictions and the priest shortage (creating impossible confession times and long lines in which one may not get in at all)?
As a family we discussed that in this case, we should express contrition for our sin directly to the Lord and trust in His merciful forgiveness even as we plan to get to sacramental confession ASAP. “Kinda like a spiritual communion but a spiritual confession, instead?,” queried one of the kids. What a brilliant analogy! (If a spiritual communion is new to you, this is a prayer expressing desire to receive sacramental communion while trusting in similar graces since that wasn’t possible. Here are several versions of a spiritual communion.) This mirrors Pope Francis’ recommendation this past spring.
If necessary, consider writing your own spiritual confession until you get to sacramental confession. Unite yourself with others throughout the world who don’t have regular access to the sacraments and trust in His divine mercy and abundant grace right where you are right now! Here's one option: