Comparing the Sacrament of Penance to “an oil change for the soul” and weeding one’s garden, Bishop of Santa Rosa, California Daniel Walsh has urged Catholics to return to regular confession of their sins.
Writing in the Summer 2009 of the diocesan newsletter The North Coast Catholic, Bishop Walsh noted that car engines which don’t receive oil changes build up minor impurities and eventually result in “major and costly problems.”
Likewise in other common tasks, failing to clean hard-to-reach parts of a house will result in areas “filthy with dust.” Failing to weed a garden allows weeds to “take over” and crowd out the garden.
“The sacrament of penance is like an oil change for the soul,” the bishop said. “It’s like moving the furniture of our souls and getting to the places that escape everyday cleaning. It is like periodically checking the garden of our souls for weeds that hamper our discipleship.”
He cited Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for Catholics to rediscover the “liberating power” of the Sacrament of Penance in which an honest confession is met by “God’s merciful words of pardon and peace.”
“Since the Second Vatican Council and the cultural revolution of the 1960’s, the Sacrament of Penance has experienced a decline,” Bishop Walsh pointed out. “We can list many reasons but I don’t think one of them is that we have stopped sinning! I think in our permissive society we have lost the sense of sin.”
He encouraged all his readers, clergy and lay, to return to the sacrament.
“I know there are many people who for many reasons haven’t been to confession for a long time and may not remember how to go, or may not feel comfortable going. Whatever the reason, I invite all to come back home, come back to the Lord.”
In confession, Bishop Walsh said, Jesus asks us what he can do for us. After unburdening our hearts, the bishop said, we will hear Him say “Go in peace, your faith has made you well.”