About the Author
Fr Slavko Barbarić, OFM, was born near Medjugorje in 1946. He was ordained a priest in 1971. He studied philosophy and pastoral theology in Sarajevo and Schwaz (Austria) and obtained his master’s degree in 1973 in Graz, Austria. He gained his doctorate in religious education in 1982 in Freiburg, Germany.
Fr Slavko began working with the pilgrims in Medjugorje in January 1982. He conducted numerous retreats and tirelessly spoke about the events of Medjugorje all over the world. He wrote many articles for various publications and is the author of many books on the spirituality of Medjugorje. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Fr Slavko died on November 24, 2000, at 3.30 PM, on Mount Križevac (Cross Mountain) in Medjugorje, after having prayed the Stations of the Cross with the parishioners.
About This Book
For a convinced Christian, Holy Confession represents one of the essential and central realities of his Christian life, which is unimaginable without a graced reconciliation with God and with man, which cannot be achieved by arrangements or concessions, as political leaders do, but by a total transfiguration of the heart, that is fully realised in a humble sacramental confession.
However, there is a serious question whether Christians understand Holy Confession in the spirit of the Gospel, as they ought. Too often they take it too superficially and erroneously, and it is not rare for people to approach this sacrament as if it were a painstaking judicial trial they must somehow endure. When Christians speak about Holy Confession, we mostly hear that it is a matter of enumerating sins and waiting to receive penance and absolution, and those, who think that they have not sinned, or that they are even sinless, like to point out self-importantly that they have neither killed anyone nor stolen anything, and this is where their Confession ends. It rarely happens that someone mentions the sin of omission.
Holy Confession has to be understood as an encounter between a sinful person and the merciful God, as the return of the prodigal son to the house of his good Father.
The substance of Holy Confession is not only sins that have been committed, but also good works which were omitted, especially the lack of love for God and for neighbour, because love is the greatest of all the commandments, and the refusal of love is the greatest sin against the Law which, for Christians, is written in the Gospel of Jesus. The one who has never sinned against love is truly sinless – but such a person does not exist. Thus, even the one who has committed no evil is not sinless, if he has not fully lived the commandment of love.
We are all sinners and we are all wounded by sin, and wounded people need medication and healing. A wounded person needs healing – and this healing comes in Holy Confession. It is a clinic and a sanatorium. It heals our wounded hearts. It restores our wounded being. The physician and the healer is the Lord God Himself, and His intermediary is the priest. If we understand Holy Confession the way we should, each Christian confession will be much more comprehensive and satisfactory than what often happens.
This booklet would like to help you to become enthusiastic about the flower of your heart and about the fruits that a flourishing heart bears, and these are love, goodness, forgiveness, mercy, peace, kindness, strength, wisdom... It wants to help you to work with enthusiasm on the field of your heart, because this is really worthwhile.
The Author Speaks
I believe that each of us has already asked the question that has tormented him or torments him still: Why does sin exist? Why is something forbidden, why is something considered a sin? I am convinced that there are very few people who have not asked themselves the question whether sin was invented by someone to make us afraid, to keep us under control, to govern us more easily. In the depth of the soul, have we not thought that adults – parents, the Church, someone who refers to God – have invented sin in order to force their will more easily upon us?
To explain more clearly, I will tell you my own experience. Already during my years of study at theological college, I was haunted by the question: what makes an act to be considered a sin? I have never dared ask this question aloud, because I was afraid to be called stupid, or worse, an unbeliever. This question accompanied me as a dark shadow during the years of my studies. After my ordination, I always tried to take the sacrament of Confession seriously, but the question haunted me more and more. Listening to the experiences of many penitents, I felt deep in my soul that many of them had not understood what sin was, so that their confession was some kind of a routine, where you can never be sure if someone is truly sorry.
As a young priest, I fell into a deep crisis. I asked myself what Confession was good for. From the pulpit, we announce the Good News, we talk about sin, we call the faithful to reject their bad habits, but in confessions or homilies I rarely met anyone who spoke about Christ’s words that one really has to stop sinning. In the depth of my soul, I wondered what the use of preaching was, what the use of hearing confessions was. I wanted to see at least some change between one confession and another. Since I saw no change, this question troubled me more and more.
Now I understand that this is the starting point of many tragedies in the lives of priests who have not discovered the meaning of their vocation, especially the meaning of their mission of reconciliation. I also see clearly that many Christians, especially young people, have problems with Confession because they ask themselves: “Should I always repeat the same thing? Why should I tell it to a priest?” This is the reason why many mention only secondary and unimportant things, and hide what is truly serious. This is what happensto all young people, especially during the years of growth and maturation. At this age, many stop going to Confession. The priest realises that those who should come to Confession do not come, and those who do come, engage in it lightly and superficially.
I remember a woman who asked to talk to me about Confession and who emphasised that this would not be an actual confession. She began by saying: “Why should I confessto a priest who is a man like me? I confess directly to God!”... I was listening in silence... I felt trapped, because I was asking myself exactly the same question. I did not know how to respond. Finally I admitted: “I have the same problem with Confession. Why should people confess to a priest who is only a man? Probably not because priests are curious and want to know what you were doing! I am convinced that nobody can tell them anything new. A priest knows all sins, all human actions. Your problem is also mine...”
She was quiet for a moment, then she looked at me and we both understood: there is something else! The question is not only why go to Confession, there is something deeper. It is an encounter between the one who is wounded and the Physician, between the one who is sinful and the Holy One, between the one who is afflicted and the Consoler, between the one who is humiliated and the One who exalts the lowly, between the one who is hungry and the One who fills the hungry with good things, between the one who is lost and the One who leaves ninety-nine sheep to seek the one which is lost, between the one who is in darkness and the One who said “I am the Light”, between the one who went astray and the One who said “I am the Way”, between the one who is dead and the one who said “I am the Life”, between the one who is lonely and the One who wants to remain with the sons of men. We talked at length and we advanced in our understanding of Confession.
The Right Question
The Greatest Sin
Work on Your Heart
Who Sets the Standards?
Confession – Why?
How to Prepare for Confession
Regarding the Action of Satan
Examination of Conscience
Author: Fr Slavko Barbarić
Original language: Croatian
Translation / Review: Lidija Paris / Fr Leon Pereira O.P.
Edited in 2018
Size: 195 x 120