A week from today, Christmas Day will be here. Are we ready? I've always felt that all of the shopping and other things that people do can become a metaphor for being prepared for Jesus. Are we prepared for Him as we meet Him in the Sacrament of Penance? Are we prepared for Him as we meet Him in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist? Are we prepared for Him if He were to call us to Himself at an hour we do not expect? Are we prepared for our personal judgment? Are we prepared for His Second Coming?
None of this is meant to create anxiety. If we are prepared, like so many prepare themselves well in advance to Christmas for all the things they must do, we have nothing to worry. We should never despair of our salvation. By the same token, like those who wait to the last minute to do their Christmas shopping and thus get harried and bent out of shape, so too those who postpone their preparations for Christ. This can cause anxiety to run a muck or it could indicate the presumption of salvation which like the despair of salvation is not the best course to take.
Last night we had our Advent Penance Service. There was a good attendance and the five of us priests stayed busy until about 9:00 PM. There was a good mix of people there too including a good number of children brought there by their parents. It is wonderful seeing parents training their children in the ways of faith by bringing their children to confession. These people are ready for Christmas!
I've always had a hard time believing that Christ would condemn to hell someone who committed what we would call a "mortal" sin and then died before they had a chance to go to confession. In the old days, the sisters would have taught us that we would go directly to hell. However, it seems to me that if a Catholic goes to confession regularly, at least once every month or two, that this implies a "confession of desire" on the part of the penitent. If in a moment of weakness or because of a general human weakness, the penitent committed a mortal sin and then died prior to confession, it seems to me that the principle of "confession of desire" would kick in and the Lord would know that the penitent intended to go to confession shortly after the sin was committed. Would not the Lord then apply the gift of forgiveness in view of the penitent's practice of confession?
I'm not condoning committing mortal sin under the presumption that it will be forgiven prior to going to Confession in the case of immediate death, but I do think it is something that could help the practicing Catholic to feel a bit more secure in his or her salvation and not despair of it. Your thoughts?