Memento mori!

Just a reminder to GO TO CONFESSION!


You are all going to die one day.

I direct this especially at you who dissent from some teaching of the Church: Don’t be on the wrong side of the Church when you go to your judgement. A harrowing thought.

It is a good thing to think on the Four Last Things regularly and to examine one’s conscience every day.

Remember to weigh your state in life and the responsibilities that come with it.

Consider your sins of omission, as well as of commission.

Confess all your mortal sins in both kind (what sin) and number (how many times, frequency).

If there is something in your life that it is out of order, take steps now to put things to right!

Life among the living is the time to make straight the paths of the Lord.

Once we die, that’s it.

Don’t delay.

We are in pre-Lent. Lent is coming.

If you are in an irregular situation, for the love of God see your parish priest NOW.

If you have some habitual sin that is keeping you from the grace of God, GO TO CONFESSION.

Fr. Z’s Tips.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. John Grammaticus says:

    addendum Father

    Keep a skull (or at least a replica of one) on one’s desk

  2. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    Ad Mortem Festinamus.

    Going this Saturday, Padre.

  3. Nicholas says:

    John Grammaticus,

    Keeping a skull on one’s desk doesn’t sound legal, and a replica may be traumatic for young children who enter. (Yes, sarcasm)

    I will go to confession tomorrow.

  4. oldconvert says:

    It is always later than we think.

    I am going to Confession tomorrow.

    Remember, Father, that it is not always easy in a practical sense; our poor overworked parish priest, with a huge rural parish to serve, and no assistant, can only offer one half hour per week before one Mass for regular confessions, and anyone who can’t make that has to make special arrangements. The days of popping in to a church of an evening and finding the light on in the confessional are long gone in this benighted country.

  5. “Let us not become like those senseless invalids, who feel not their ailments, and seek no remedy. We despair of a sick man, who will not be persuaded that he is in danger. No; let us run to our Lord, the Physician of eternal salvation. Let us show Him our wounds, and cry out to Him with all our earnestness: Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak: heal me, for my bones are troubled. Then, will He forgive us our iniquities, heal us of our infirmities, and satisfy our desire with good things.”
    – Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, quoting Ivo of Chartres exhorting the Faithful of the 11th century at the beginning of Septuagesima

    The sinner needs but to confess his miseries, and the very Lord, against whom he sinned, will become his Deliverer
    – Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Septuagesima

    Reading Dom Guéranger’s The Liturgical Year [c. 1860s] for Septuagesima is a delight. Like our enthusiastic Fr. Z, the Benedictine Abbot also exhorts the Faithful to confess throughout his work.

  6. addendum Father

    Keep a skull (or at least a replica of one) on one’s desk

    Sleeping in a coffin works for me. But that’s probably more than anyone else needed to know.

    Seriously, folks – I’m looking forward to next Wednesday, but I can always start now.

  7. APX says:

    The Carmelites used to (some still do) keep a skull on the table in the refectory to remind them that they will die.

    You can buy real ones online at Skulls Unlimited, though I am not confident the Church approves if such purchases.

  8. benedetta says:

    Thanks for the chuckles and the admonition Father. My favorite part was when one of the merry bones played knick knack on the other one’s ribs.

  9. A.D. says:

    Tina, thanks for sharing those quotes. I’m going to confession tomorrow, if I don’t chicken out again. Prayers, please, that I make a good one and have sincere intention to repent. Thanks.
    St. Bernadette, pray for us, gentle and humble saint. Holy Mary, pray for us.

  10. andia says:

    I used to go every week, til I got yelled at for doing so. Seriously yelled at, the people who had been waiting in line behind me moved to the very farthest end of the church in an effort not to hear. He told me “once a year is more than enough” I will go before Lent – and again before Easter if I can find another place to go.

  11. Maltese says:

    We would all do well to read the Everyman play!

  12. Thanks Father. Hearing this from you is why I continue returning to your blog. You are a priest who cares for us, though we are strangers. This is true charity and some dioceses just aren’t getting through to people. You do. Thank you and please keep me in your prayers.

  13. John Grammaticus says:

    Just as a note I DON’T have a real skull on my desk at home !!! I brought a Rosewood replica from Amazon.

    @Phillipa Martyr

    I would sleep in a coffin but I tend to kick a lot and move around in my sleep and coffins by their very nature are someone confining (also being a Vampire trying to shake the bad image …….. well lets just say that the coffin is a bit cliché) .. Now I could decorate my room with images of gravestones, skeletons and the like……..

  14. mrbuccola says:

    At my ICKP parish, I was told that I need not confess the count of times I’ve committed a sin, because just once is enough to offend almighty God. Instead, we should confess why I committed such and such sin. Whilst I don’t mind doing so, and often do so in my prayers, I’m still confused as to why not state the frequency. Any ideas?

  15. NoraLee9 says:

    My husband the Animator/Animation Teacher wanted to make sure that Ub Iwerks was properly credited here for his skeleton animation. Although Walt produced it, Ub, did the drawings, and animated it.
    These old animations are incredible. They were thousands of drawings, input, not with a scanner, but by hand, with a camera. I have seen the process, since hubby teaches it, and the work that went into these things were amazing.
    Thanks, Pater, for the hat tip to the artists, and yes, I’ll trot over to confession today.

  16. MichaeltDoyle says:

    @Andia, my heart goes out to you for the humiliating experience you suffered. Offer it up. Please find other places to go to Confession; it’s definitely a good idea to go frequently. The first Saturday devotion requires at least a once a month Confession, so it’s definitely a good idea to go at least that frequently. Confession also helps us to form out conscience and have another human perspective. Priests are human and can have off days or be just plain wrong but the absolution is from Christ Himself by His explicit gift to His Church.

  17. HeatherPA says:

    Father Z, my husband and I are struggling with this, as we have been married for almost twenty years, we have seven children, six living, and have been going to Confession faithfully, and the newish priest at our parish has said to me in the confessional, in response to normal confession of impatience in marital matters etc… “The Church allows for annulment”.

    This shook me up badly. That wasn’t what I was there for, nor what I want, ever.(well, not when not 9 months pregnant hahaha)

    My husband and I went a few weeks ago to a different parish in a different diocese and went to confession there. Young priest, and my husband came out of the Confessional visibly upset. On the way home, he said he was Confessing failing to live up to his duties as a husband as far as his temper and time at home went, and the priest responded, “well, you know that the Church allows for annulments”. What the heck is going on, Father Z!!!??
    Is this being pushed as the new thing now?

  18. Grumpy Beggar says:

    – Great post Father Z.
    Thanks !

    mrbuccola says:
    “At my ICKP parish, I was told that I need not confess the count of times I’ve committed a sin, because just once is enough to offend almighty God. Instead, we should confess why I committed such and such sin. Whilst I don’t mind doing so, and often do so in my prayers, I’m still confused as to why not state the frequency. Any ideas?”

    It could be possible that the confessor might not consider the sin to be mortal. Other than that, the advice would certainly seem to be poor and/or a little out of kilter , according to what Father John Hardon S.J. says about the sacrament of Confession in his Modern Catholic Dictionary

    CONFESSION. The voluntary self-accusation of one’s sins to a qualified priest in order to obtain absolution from him. This accusation must be an external manifestation. It must be objectively complete in that the penitent confesses every mortal sin according to number and kinds that he has committed since his last worthy reception of the sacrament of penance. In extraordinary circumstances a subjectively complete confession is sufficient, that is, when circumstances prevent a person from accusing himself of all his grave sins. He is nevertheless obliged to confess all his mortal sins in a later reception of the sacrament.

    When there are no mortal sins to confess, it is sufficient to confess any previous sins from one’s past life or any present venial sins of which a person has been guilty, in order to obtain absolution and the grace of the sacrament of penance. (Etym. Latin con-, thoroughly + fateri, to acknowledge: confessio, confession.)

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church it would seem , in quoting St. Augustine, does wish us to consider the amount of times we commit sin – even venial sin :

    1863. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God; it does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.”

    While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.

    So if we are required, as responsible Catholics, to try and be mindful of the frequency of our sins, it would seem only logical that we also confess them – wouldn’t it ?

    Not confessing the amount of times one commits a particular sin would also deprive the confessor of getting a feel as to whether the sin was an habitual one; which often enough, due to its habitual nature would entail some mitigation of the guilt incurred.

    Another pertinent page from the CCC – Acts of the Penitent , CCC

  19. Grumpy Beggar says:

    @Andia : With MichaeltDoyle I also empathize with you, and pray you can find a way to get around that human weakness issue, where eventually find yourself an environment where the sacrament would be made more willingly available to you.

    Sometimes we penitents can abuse the sacrament, but it really does appear as if the abuse is on the other end this time-surely , in saying that once a year is more than enough.

    It’s too bad you couldn’t tell that particular confessor that Pope St. John Paul II went to confession every week – just like you were doing. . . (maybe nobody yelled at him when he was doing it).

    Pope John Paul II and Weekly Confession,

    “It would be illusory to desire to reach holiness — according to the vocation that each one has received from God — without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and sanctification.”

    Pope John Paul II says Frequent Confession Needed to Achieve Holiness

  20. Imrahil says:

    Well, dear mrbuccola and HeatherPA,

    the reason is that some priests give suboptimal, or even bad, advice in the Confessional.

    Dante spoke about the golden and the silver key entrusted to Confessors; the golden, more powerful one which certainly relieves sins, the silver, more difficult one which is the accompaning counseling, medicinal punishment the priests has to do. But as to the latter, there may be mistakes.

    As a matter of fact, giving the number seems to be mandatory for mortal sins*. It is not so for venial ones, but even here, I cannot seriously see how a priest might protest against being given this information, especially as it helps to complete the picture (think of such venial sins as arriving somewhat late for the Sunday Mass, normal drunkenness, etc.).

    [*That said, I think a confession is valid even if the penitent does not specify the number. The priest would, then, ask; if he doesn’t, that should not be the problem for validity, though it’s not the ideal thing.
    Hence the joke that a murderer, after being sent off with horror by rabbi and Protestant preacher, confesses “I committed murder” to the Catholic priest, who silently gulps and then says: “How often, my son?”]

    A number of light objects makes a great mass, , etc., by the way, but it must, of course, be noted, that no number of venial sins whatever does in itself count as mortal sin.

  21. Joe in Canada says:

    I Cor 15:51: we shall not all die….

  22. Sonshine135 says:

    This is a great post Father. I think this gets to the core of all of our concerns around some of the recent talk from Cardinal Marx. We simply don’t want people to persist in manifestly grave sin, because it is quite the opposite of merciful. It is a prescription of judgement and condemnation on their souls and on our own for simply “looking the other way”. It breaks my heart that this is so difficult for so many Catholics to understand.

  23. MrsMacD says:

    Andia, I go every week, but I have FSSP priests and they’re really kind and patient with me. When I was a girl of twelve I was told in the confessional that once a week was too often, that I shouldn’t go more than once a month, not in an unkind manner, but it made me even more afraid of going to confession and it wasn’t long before I fell into mortal sins against faith, little did that priest know the fierce war being waged against my soul and the amazing graces confession gave me to fight, to remain strong. There are saints like St. Margaret of Scotlland who went every day but St. Pio of Pietrelchina was adamant that confessions of devotion should be made once a week,. Of course if you’re in the state of mortal sin, don’t wait, go as soon as possible! You could die and go to hell! Confession is such a personal thing, it’s so humbling, it’s so hard to go, to be forced to ask a busy priest, to go to an uneducated priest, or to endure an unjust angry rebuke, or a falsehood, is just not fair. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

    God help our priests! Send us many and holy priests!

  24. Skeinster says:

    Praying for those who have a difficult time, for whatever reason- personal or circumstantial- getting to confession. And for us, who, by the grace of God, have unlimited opportunities for the sacrament to never take it for granted.
    I never get in line without a prayer of thanksgiving for our blessing in this regard.

  25. Skeinster says:

    Re: skulls
    I have an old wooden rosary that I treasure that has a little ivory skull bead right above the crucifix.
    Very useful for meditating and reminds me to pray for the former, unknown owner.

  26. Mike says:

    The Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, properly and frequently received, infuse our souls with grace to resist Satan. Thus it should hardly be surprising that the Evil One would seek to snatch souls through priests — such as today’s self-styled “progressives” in “pastoral” and “communitarian” garb — who dismiss or abuse these Sacraments.

    Andia, have you sought spiritual direction in order to reap the maximum benefit from your Confessions? That has been an immeasurable help to me.

    Let’s pray frequently to St. Michael and to St. John Vianney, and offer the Pater at the beginning of our Rosary for holy vocations.

  27. Siculum says:

    Hey HeatherPA,

    That’s disturbing. Thanks for sharing your story. Next time, respond to any priest who asks that, “Is this some kind of joke?”

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Keep a skull (or at least a replica of one) on one’s desk.”

    Yeah, real human skulls could get you in a lot of trouble.

    As for annulment comments, obviously, the priests seem to misunderstand the dynamics of married life. One could throw it back at him and say, “Yes, and the Church allows for the Sacrament of Confession for sins of anger even more, especially among married couples. Perhaps, if more people used it, the need for annulments would be less. Right, Father?”

    The Chicken

  29. Priam1184 says:

    Interesting to think that all of the people who originally saw that in the theater, since it was first aired in 1929, including (the vast majority of) the young children are all in that state now.

  30. A.D. says:

    A grateful thank you to all who were praying for me. I went to confession on Saturday. God bless you all.

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