We should confess frequently, because we often sin. If there were a man who never in his life committed even a venial sin, he could not and should not confess, for confession is only ordained for sinners. But there is no man or woman who does not some time or other commit sin during the course of life; even the greatest saints were not without some sin, and although they did not sin grievously, yet they were not free from lesser faults. As every man is a sinner, every man must confess, because Christ has ordained it so. Whether we commit mortal or venial sins, we should frequently go to confession.
A hermit having fallen through human frailty into several faults, went to Siloe, one of the great Fathers of the desert, to ask him what he should do. "My son," he answered, "you must rise again from your fall." "But, my Father, I have already done so, and I have fallen again." "Well, just rise again once more." "And how often must I thus rise again?" "As often as you fall," replied the Father. "Rise again always as long as you live, and when the hour of your death comes, it will find you either standing or lying down, and it will carry you in that position before the sovereign tribunal of God."
May God grant, my children, that, when that terrible messenger comes to you, he will find you standing, that is, in the grace of God, so that your sentence then may be that of the just. Though he who lives in the state of grievous sin may perform all kinds of good works, pray, fast, and give alms, yet he cannot expect the least reward for it hereafter. What an injury do not sinners inflict upon themselves who for a long time, often for years, neglect to confess! Even venial sins are a great evil; and if we view them as an offense against God we must look upon them as the greatest of temporal evils. Venial sins prevent our entrance into heaven, and unless forgiven here, they must be atoned for in purgatory. The greater the number of venial sins, the longer will be the punishment in purgatory. Should we not, then, confess frequently in order to free ourselves more and more from venial sins, and not be compelled to suffer long in purgatory? Those who disregard venial sins commit them without fear or scruple. He who does not confess often, easily falls into a state of lukewarmness, and runs the risk of finally falling into mortal sins, and of being ultimately rejected.
A young boy, who had made his First Communion only a few months previously, was sent by his parents as an apprentice to a trade they had chosen for him. On the day of his First Communion he had taken one great resolution, which at all hazards he was resolved to keep. It was this: "If by some great misfortune I should happen to fall into mortal sin, I will go to Confession before I retire to rest on that very same day." This misfortune did occur. It was on a Saturday, and the weather was exceedingly stormy; moreover, the priest lived at a considerable distance from the place where the boy dwelt. The tempter, who had been the occasion of his fall, suggested to him that he might easily delay his visit to the priest for a few days, considering he dwelt at such a distance and the weather was so bad. But suddenly recalling to mind his promise, the boy seemed to hear deep down in his soul a voice—perhaps it might have been that of his guardian angel—which urged him to go immediately: "Go to Confession at once; do as you promised."
For a moment he hesitated. Falling down on his knees, he said a "Hail Mary," to obtain the grace of knowing the will of God, and of following it. He rose from his knees and set out for the church. On his return he met his godmother, who inquired of him where he had been. He told her all, with joy on his countenance. "I could not go to sleep," he said, "until I had become reconciled to God." His mother was accustomed on Sunday mornings to allow her children a longer time for sleep than on other days. When it became rather late on this Sunday, she went to the door of the little room in which he slept to awake him. She knocked, but received no answer. She then opened the door, and found him still in bed, asleep, as she thought. "Rise quickly, you lazy boy," she said, as she approached the bed. Seeing that he heeded not, she took his hands; they were cold. With terror she looked more closely at him. This look told her all. The child was dead and his body cold. How fortunate for him that he had not delayed going to Confession. Children, learn from this example never to delay even for one instant the return to God when by misfortune a mortal sin has separated you from Him. Make immediately an act of contrition, and go to Confession as soon as possible.
Most persons immediately after Confession have an earnest desire to sin no more, to avoid all evil occasions, and to lead a new life. For some time everything goes well; they carefully
avoid everything that might cause them to fall, and diligently employ the means prescribed by the confessor. But their fervor gradually lessens; they cease to pray fervently, to not renew their resolutions so frequently; they incline again more to the world. Thus it goes on for some time. Gradually the impressions of grace begin to wane and the fear of God grows weaker and gradually they commit the old sins again. Why this relapse? Because they deferred confession too long; temptation got the upper hand of them.
Children, if you wish to be a good Catholic, and you want to be sure of heaven, you must confess not only once a year, but often. In general, I advise young people to go to Confession once a month. I am convinced that if you confess and communicate often you will preserve yourself from sin, make progress in virtue, and attain salvation.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921