“HOW WOULD YOU
AS THE PENITENT
IN THIS CONFESSION?”
This Teaching was given to the women at a Society Of The Little Way Meeting.
Confessor: Father John Baptiste Vianney
Penitent: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is
since my last confession.
Father Vianney: Yes, go ahead.
Penitent: Father, I’ve heard people talk about General Confession, but I don’t know if I’ve ever really made one.
I feel a need deep inside of me to change my life and start to do things the way God expects me to, but I feel I will look like an oddball to a lot of people, and even find myself becoming scrupulous to the point where I won’t achieve a higher Spiritual level as I feel I desire to reach, but that I will get lost in the confusion of what is expected of me by people, and then I will get mixed up with an unhealthy, perhaps even unstable way of life.
Father Vianney: Are you sure what your word ‘scrupulous’ means, or are you using it to throw me off the severity of impurities that you feel you’ve offended God by and with, or are you being cautious, so I will let you know if I am bound by ‘tradition’ or if I am ‘liberal’ and maybe even if I am ‘orthodox’ or ‘unorthodox’?
Penitent: I don’t think so, Father.
Father Vianney: Go ahead.
Penitent: I would like to start with the First Commandment.
Father Vianney: I would suggest you follow my lead so we can be thorough. Let us begin with God’s Tenth Commandment.
Penitent: The Tenth?
Father Vianney: Yes.
Penitent: Ooh, that’s hard to do. I don’t know where to start. I don’t think I’ve sinned against the Tenth Commandment.
Father Vianney: I hope you haven’t, but if you have, wouldn’t it be wise to recognize it and avoid such sins from now on?
Penitent: Yes, Father.
Father Vianney: Do you know the Tenth Commandment?
Penitent: Yes. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Goods.
Father Vianney: All right. Now, how do you associate this Commandment to your moral values and moral standards?
Penitent: The word ‘covet’ means desire. I doubt that my desiring something could be called sinful.
Father Vianney: You’re sure about this?
Penitent: I guess so.
Father Vianney: Desire can be a very strong feeling, emotion, or encourage you to desire something that belongs to someone else; then you use what you feel in aggressiveness, anger, selfishness, envy, possessiveness, neglect, or even false justified taking.
Penitent: Do you mean, Father, that the little word ‘covet’ that I took so indifferently has this much impact on my nature, my personality, and my natural desire to have what belongs to someone else and/or my personal indifference to doing things that would cause me to abuse, take, or make the other person feel anger because I kept what I borrowed?
Father Vianney: There are many sins committed against this Commandment, but most are overlooked as just natural to man’s innate desire to have what belongs to another. ‘Desire’ in itself is not sinful. It is what evolves from this act or actions that desire encourages, permits or practices.
When God gave this Commandment to Moses it was not in the condensed version of our day. It was most certainly elaborated upon, and it was shown for the vulnerability that desire can create if it is not controlled by one’s sound moral values and sound moral standards.
Penitent: Father, I will certainly think more seriously on my dealing with this Commandment.
Father Vianney: Now, let us look at the Ninth Commandment. Do you know it?
Penitent: Oh yes, Father. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Spouse. There’s that word again.
Father Vianney: Yes, it’s a very important word because it has a way of covering the many repercussions that desire can use to encourage many different types and kinds of sins. This word is not to be taken lightly.
Penitent: Thank you, Father, for making me aware of something I have never really thought about.
Father Vianney: Now shall we look at the Eighth Commandment? Do you know it?
Penitent: Oh yes, Father. It’s Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor.
Father Vianney: That’s right. Now can you describe any things you might have done or are doing to consider your behavior spotless or questionable regarding this very important Commandment?
Penitent: I guess I have to admit joining in criticism, biased opinions, and saying things that are not kind, or they cast a questionable light on the character, habits, behavior or problems of other people. Father, I can see where I can abuse this Commandment every day of my life, with my family, people I meet, and many other areas of just human relationships.
Father Vianney: Then I would suggest you begin to think before you talk and think before you act. Remember, actions can sometimes speak louder than words.
Penitent: Yes, Father. I promise I will try.
Father Vianney: The Seventh Commandment, do you know it?
Penitent: Yes, Father. Thou Shalt Not Steal.
Father Vianney: Do you?
Penitent: Do what?
Father Vianney: Steal.
Penitent: Heavens no, Father. I’ve always said if I was going to steal, I’d steal a million or nothing.
Father Vianney: Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Now let’s look at it realistically, as God intended it to be obeyed.
Penitent: Yes, Father.
Father Vianney: Have you ever stolen someone’s
dignity need for privacy
self-esteem desire for modesty
personal belongings friendships
personal talents success
personal abilities popularity
items at work good name?
Penitent: I never looked at this Commandment in this vein.
Father Vianney: There is this much to it and more. At least now you will have a better and more thorough evaluation to the simple word ‘steal’.
You might have justified your actions by saying to yourself, ‘I just borrowed it; I felt it was going to be thrown away or I felt there was an excessive amount and no one would miss what I took.’
Ask yourself, did greed enter your intentions?
Was there a glimmer of selfishness?
Did envy take precedence over the thin line of right versus wrong?
Penitent: Father, how can I weigh every move I make? People will think I’m crazy.
Father Vianney: What makes you think you are so important that people watch every move you make, or everything you think?
Are you an exceptionally vain person?
Penitent: Father, I never think of myself as vain.
Father Vianney: Well, think about it and maybe you will find that vanity is one of the stumbling blocks you will have to overcome to resolve many offenses against God and His Ten Commandments.
There’s nothing wrong with sound self-esteem when it is based on sound moral values and sound moral standards.
When a child, a woman, or a man, takes the time to evaluate their way of life, and just what direction they are headed, it is the first step to a successful goal for life.
Success is important to most people.
Talents to be recognized
This list is endless if one looks at the many Gifts man has that can be used to gain recognition and reach goals.
Spiritual success, of course, is the everlasting. It is what we were all born to achieve.
Penitent: When you say it, Father, it sounds so beautiful. Then there’s a little feeling inside of me that tugs at me and makes me wonder if I am strong enough to succeed.
Father Vianney: You can. It just takes a consistent application of wanting to please God first and then always keeping in mind His Ten Commandments.
Father Vianney: Now let’s go to the Sixth Commandment. Do you know it?
Penitent: Yes, Father. Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.
Father Vianney: Have you?
Father Vianney: Out of all The Commandments, I find that this one is confessed in the most unusual ways, either boldly, matter-of- factly, sheepishly, or even falsely.
There are always so many excuses, reasons, personal opinions, choice words chosen to diminish the offense to God, or an exaggerated emotional aspect either trying to get me to see reason or recognize the sin as inescapable. Now, rape is not a sin of the victim, but adultery is.
Penitent: I understand, Father.
Father Vianney: Do you know the Fifth Commandment?
Penitent: Yes, Father. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And no, Father, I haven’t killed anyone.
Father Vianney: You mean you have not taken the life of another person or persons?
Penitent: That’s right, Father.
Father Vianney: I am happy to hear you say that.
But now let’s look deeper into this very important Commandment. If you were at war or fighting for your life against the attack of someone, and you killed the other person, this would not be a mortal sin, but there are other ways to kill.
Killing someone’s Faith in God.
Killing someone’s spirit
Killing someone’s hope
Killing someone’s ideals
Killing someone’s talent
Killing someone’s enthusiasm
Killing someone’s charity
Killing someone’s will, through brainwashing or trickery.
There are many methods and means to kill portions of someone else’s life.
Think about this. Your temper, anger, abuse, selfishness, greed, jealousy, misconduct, can all contribute to killing.
Penitent: Father, how in the world can any human being become a Saint? I have been taught that that was to be the Goal of the physical life.
Father Vianney: To become a Saint is the Goal of everyone’s life. You have the foundation, your Faith in God. You have the Guidelines, His Ten Commandments. You have the will to correct your faults, weaknesses and offenses against God.
You also have the beauty of tradition in your religion. You know what is right and what is wrong. Your will as your decision maker gives you the freedom, the opportunity and the intellect to choose against all odds and against all unorthodox ordained authority.
Penitent: Thank you, Father, you have given me something to hold on to.
Father Vianney: Now let’s look at what you feel about your obedience to God’s Fourth Commandment, and if you know it.
Penitent: That’s an easy one, Father. Honor Thy Father And Thy Mother.
Father Vianney: Yes, those are the words of the Fourth Commandment. Do you feel it just refers to your parents?
Penitent: Yes, Father.
Father Vianney: Well, it really has more meaning to it than limiting it to your earthly parents.
Penitent: Hmmm — why aren’t The Commandments taught like you’re telling me, Father?
Father Vianney: The condensed version through time has diminished God’s Ten Commandments to specific words, eliminating the Greatness of His Powerful Love for mankind, thus putting God’s daily existence in the life of all men, women and children as something in the past, not the present. This, of course, is false.
Penitent: This statement of yours makes me want to show God I do appreciate Him and all He has given me.
Father Vianney: Then tell Him in words, acts, actions, and a renewed thinking about His Commandments. Never be afraid or indifferent to what God is all about. He is Supreme in All Knowledge, Power and Judgment.
Father Vianney: The Third Commandment is what?
Penitent: Remember, Keep Holy The Sabbath Day.
Father Vianney: That’s right. How do you keep this Commandment?
Penitent: I do go to Mass on Sundays, Father.
Father Vianney: Fine; but how?
Penitent: What do you mean, how?
Father Vianney: Just out of obligation or because you realize the importance of keeping in touch with God through a ceremony structured to instruct you in your religion, based on your Faith in God? Also, are you aware of the Importance of Holy Communion and Its special place in your life?
Do you understand the Mass, plus Its full origin and Its Importance?
Do you fulfill your obligation in keeping the whole day special?
Do you respond to your time in church with solemnity, dignity, honor, respect and participation?
Do you understand the purpose of all the Sacramentals that can enable you to concentrate more on the purpose, reason and time spent in keeping this day devoted to all that is directed to sound moral values and sound moral standards?
Penitent: Heavens, Father, I don’t go into all that thinking every Sunday.
Father Vianney: Then it’s a good time to start thinking and realizing that such an important Commandment must have much more to it than one meaning.
Penitent: Yes, Father.
Father Vianney: The Second Commandment. What is it?
Penitent: Thou Shalt Not Take The Name Of The Lord Thy God In Vain.
Father Vianney: Yes, that’s right. What is your behavior regarding this Commandment?
Penitent: I don’t swear, Father.
Father Vianney: That’s good.
Do you participate in parties, affairs, or at work, where others use profanity a lot?
Do you, by your lack of swearing, show the distaste you have for others using God’s Name in a vulgar, crude, disrespectful way?
Do you laugh at jokes that are obscene or abusive to God in any way?
Penitent: Father, I’ve always felt that I had no right to tell people what to say or do. Also, if I go around like a ‘Miss Goody’, I won’t have any friends.
Father Vianney: Then I would say you stop worrying about what people think and be what you know is right for you, and especially for your Soul.
Father Vianney: The very First Commandment will be our last to discuss. Do you know this Commandment?
Penitent: Oh yes, Father. I Am The Lord Thy God, Thou Shalt Not Have strange gods Before Me.
I don’t, Father. I can’t stand cults or other people’s idea of what God is all about.
Father Vianney: All right, but let’s look at this Commandment in a very clear way.
Any sin against any one of God’s Commandments is automatically a sin against this one because of:
Harm to another person
Vulgarity, Crudeness — both of these involving a diminishing one’s human dignity
Abuse to one’s body or to someone else’s body
Lacking in Sound Moral Values
Lacking in Sound Moral Standards and More.
The First Commandment, even in its condensed form, tells us ‘God first, God above all things’.
Keep this in mind and it will help you to think more about pleasing God, remaining in His Grace, and not be impulsive when decisions have to be made as to which comes first, your selfish weakness or that beautiful chance to use the decision you make to bring you closer to God, and closer to Sainthood.
Penitent: Father, that’s beautiful, but I’m not used to thinking this way. I feel it will take me time to grow, and in a way I’m afraid of slipping backward.
Father Vianney: Aha, then be sure you never allow yourself to be on thin ice. Your confession today says you have the insight to grow more in love with God and less in love with yourself.
Penitent: Thank you, Father. I sure will try.
Father Vianney: This confession went along with the theme of the Ten Commandments that is: Thou shalt not.
Now we must look at a slightly different approach to a life pleasing to God: Thou shalt, or you can.
There are so many positive ways to attaining the Goal of Sainthood. Each person has his or her own line of direction according to their circumstances, their way of life, their type of environment, their attitude, their sensitivity to Spiritual needs, growth, example.
Please look at Sainthood in a positive way, but base it on all good, not going along with how other people live or always what you feel other people expect of you. You are an individual in the Eyes of God. Be thankful for this and always be confident that He and He Alone can read your heart, your mind and your love for Him.
Father Vianney: For your penance, say a Rosary every day for one month, and never forget to talk to God as your Friend, your Father and your Creator. He loves you, and your Soul is a Part of God.
What more can a person want than to know that within them they have a very Special Part of God to protect, and return It to God one day glowing in the Light of Sainthood?
God bless you.
Penitent: Thank you, Father. Please pray for me.
Father Vianney: And you for me.”