Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,
As you know, your holy patron Philip counseled the practice of going to confession frequently. It is here that you will find that your desire for conversion of life and to make reparation for your sins is renewed again and again. The priest, in the longer dismissal prayer following absolution, seeks to foster that desire with the words, "May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Mary and all the angels and saints, whatever good you do or suffering you endure, heal you of your sins, help you to grow in holiness and reward you with eternal life." These words, Blessed Columba Marmion tells us, hold within them a special efficacy that you should not neglect. Here, all your acts of expiation and reparation, all the adversities you endure, are linked and united to the sacrament and thus to the merits of Christ. Fidelity to this practice will help you to see the greatness of the sacrament in which the blood of Christ is applied to you and instill within your hearts' intentions full of love - - impervious to the rust that often clings to our religious practices. More importantly, it offers you a way to express your love for Christ by your willingness to share in the sufferings of His Passion.
In confession, after the priest, Christ’s minister, has imposed the necessary satisfaction, and, by absolution, has washed our souls in the divine blood, he repeats these words over us: “May whatever of good thou dost, and evil thou bearest, be to thee for the remission of thy sins, the increase of grace, and the reward of everlasting life.” This prayer is not essential to the sacrament, but as it has been ordained by the Church, besides containing teaching that the Church assuredly desires to see us put into practice, it has the value of a sacramental.
By this prayer, the priest gives to our sufferings, to our acts of satisfaction, of expiation, of mortification, of reparation and patience which he thus links and unites with the sacrament, a special efficacy which our faith should not neglect to consider.
“For the remission of thy sins.” The Council of Trent teaches on this subject a very consoling truth. It tells us that God is so munificent in His mercy that, not only the works of expiation that the priest imposes on us, or that we ourselves choose, but even all the sufferings inherent to our condition here below, all the temporal adversities which God sends or permits and we patiently support, serve, through Christ’s merits, as satisfaction with the Eternal Father. That is why—I cannot too often recommend it to you—it is an excellent and most fruitful practice when we present ourselves to the priest, or rather to Jesus Christ, in order to accuse ourselves of our sins, to accept in expiation all the pains, all the annoyances, all the contradictions which may befall us; and still more, to resolve at this moment on such or such a special act of mortification, however light it may be, which we will accomplish until our next confession.
Fidelity to this practice, which enters so well into the spirit of the Church, is very profitable.
To begin with, it removes the danger of routine. A soul that, by faith, thus plunges itself again into the consideration of the greatness of this sacrament in which the blood of Jesus is applied to us, and with an intention full of love, offers to bear patiently, in union with Christ on the Cross, all that happens that is hard, difficult, painful or disappointing in life, such a soul is impervious to the rust which with many persons accompanies frequent confession.
Secondly, this practice is an act of love extremely pleasing to our Lord because it is a mark of our willingness to share the sufferings of His Passion, the most holy of His mysteries.
Blessed Columba Marmion.