In the third season of The Crown series, Princess Alice of Greece, the mother of (late) Prince Philip of Edinburgh, asked him a deep, thought-provoking question after a long time apart due to war, separation, and many past mishaps and misunderstanding: “How is your faith?” To which, he answered, “Dormant.” She then told him, “That’s not good. Let this be a mother’s gift to her child. The one piece of advice… Find yourself faith. It helps… not just helps. It’s everything!”
The prince later shared his reflection of this grace-filled encounter in a group of clergymen, whose members were trying to help each other through life’s struggles:
“She saw something was amiss. She saw something was missing in her youngest child. Her only son. Faith. ‘How’s your faith?’ she asked me. I’m here to admit to you that I’ve lost it. And, without it, what is there? The loneliness, and emptiness, and anticlimax of going all that way to the moon to find nothing but haunting desolation, ghostly silence, gloom. That is what faithlessness is… As opposed to finding wonder, ecstasy, the miracle of divine creation, God’s design and purpose. What am I trying to say? I’m trying to say that the solutions to our problems, I think, is not in the ingenuity of the rocket, or the science, or the technology, or even the bravery. No, the answer is in here (pointing to his forehead). Or here (pointing to his chest), or whatever it is that… that faith resides. And so, having ridiculed you and these poor blocked, lost souls were trying to achieve here in St. George’s House, I now find myself full of respect, and admiration, and not a small part of desperation, as I come to say, ‘Help. Help me.'”
The character of Prince Philip was able to put into words what we all desired, but too oftentimes, wrongly sought elsewhere. Let us be honest, too many of us are trying too hard to look for earthly satisfaction, stimulation, pleasure, or achievement as a way to make us somehow feel “alive” or worth living in life. Nonetheless, we often ended up unhappy or found life not worth living.
We tend to overcomplicated things instead of simplifying our lives by making straight our paths, preparing ourselves for the Lord, and become His loving presence for one another. It is too easy to simply expect and presume that God has to be someone encouraging, uplifting, and act as a butler to give us what we want instead of repenting, converting, and changing our lives back to the truth.
Nevertheless, all of the Gospel teachings are clear, for they challenge us to the core by asking us to change our ways. They were not written to tell us to simply be “nice” and “good” but remain unchanged by grace. They were written to affirm the faith of believers who were going through persecutions and were questioning whether it was worth it to continue being Christians — as disciples of Jesus Christ. They challenged and invited the ones who were having the identity and faith crisis to keep focused and be faithful to the mission just as Christ did with His’. The Master, Teacher, and Savior chose to embrace the Cross and did what was right and proper to His mission, and so should we!
Therefore, if we have strayed away, we have to repent of our wrongdoings, stop making excuses for our actions and putting the blames on others. We have to stop thinking that we did not sin or dismiss the reality of sin that has destroyed our relationship with God, with one another, and with ourselves. The greatest tragedy is for us to ignore and dismiss evil as evil, especially missing the essential call to conversion and repentance.
The Confiteor that we say at the beginning of each Mass reminds us that we have greatly sinned, in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done and failed to do. Nonetheless, that general confession and action and only temporarily withhold the minor offenses that we do not remember as to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That does not excuse us from not going to confessions when we have committed mortal sins! And perhaps many will think that I am harsh and judging others when I am about to bring up something that is very unpopular. Perhaps many will stop reading because they do not want to hear something that will prick their conscience; but what I write to you, I preach to myself first, for these same teachings apply to me and all priests as well — none of us are exempted from them and we are all held accountable by the mandates and commandments set by the Master.
I am not here to judge anyone, I am here to present and teach what the Church has been teaching objectively and consistently. As a matter of fact, I would rather keep silent if it is my personal preference, but God puts it in my heart and pushes me to do my duty as your spiritual father in my prayers. Again, I am not personally attacking anyone and just hope that you will be opened and see it as an invitation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation than to dismiss what is right and just. If we slow down to reflect and pray, our conscience will tell us what is right and wrong; therefore, take a moment to listen and present ourselves honestly before the Almighty.
Sometimes we think that we did not kill anyone so we did not commit any mortal sins, but we need to remember that mortal sins are the ones that are grave, directly against the Ten Commandments and Precepts of the Church; and unfortunately, we know that they are grave but willingly did them anyway. Some of those things are: slander; gossiping or bearing false witness against others to hurt or destroy one’s reputations; stealing or taking things that do not belong to us; prolonged, intentional, and planned curse or wishing to hurt or do bad things to others; fornication or adultery; pornography and entertaining one’s self with it; intentional and grave objectification, sexualization, or manipulation of others; unjust contraceptive means to avoid pregnancy without clear grave conditions; missing Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligations; using God‘s name in profane or vain ways — just to name a few.
Mortal sins ruptured and destroyed our relationship with God and with one another, even the ones we think that no one else sees or knows. Therefore, they require a contrite, humble, and genuine confession, forgiveness of sin, and acts of reparation or penance to repay for the wrong done against Him and those who are affected. To receive the Blessed Sacrament without the confession of our mortal sins incur upon us another sin, which is called sacrilege, which happens when we intentionally profaned the sacred by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ without objective confession, repentance, and reparation.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing because it reconciles one with God, forgives him or her of the sins confessed or tried to confess but did not remember, and assigns the proper spiritually or humanly just penance as to invite the individual penitent to make acts of reparation and penance proper to the failed words or actions against God, neighbor, and self. One of my spiritual directors, who is an exorcist, used to tell me: “I want you to remember this when you become a priest… One good confession is worth more than a hundred exorcisms! The Devil and his minions hate it when we confess our sins because they want to enslave us by keeping things secretive and hidden. They do all that they can to keep a penitent away from divine grace, and it takes courage to break through those lies.” I can affirm what he said is true when I received phone calls or messages from people who are disturbed or being manipulated by an evil spirit(s). They want it to go away but are scared or unwilling to change their ways. They want things to be back to normal but they do not want to confess their sins and return to the faith, hence the Devil and his minions still have them under their control because they are not willing to break free.
We cannot go on our ways thinking everything will be fine if we just ignore the truth and live as we like. We can fill our void for a short while but our heart will still be empty and restless until it rests in God. He wants to heal us but we have to invite the Divine Healer and Physician into our heart by confessing our sins, admit our failures, and receive reconciliation from the beautiful sacrament of healing given to us by the Lord to His Church. No matter how far we have strayed away, there is still time to turn back! Do not wait until tomorrow, begin today while you and I still have time! God is here to forgive us through the Church and her ministers if we turn back to Him.
Let us, therefore, be humble in recognizing that we need faith. Our hearts are yearning for the Kingdom of God! We have to simplify life and its priorities by preparing our hearts for the Lord to come and dwell there, making straight our paths toward Him and letting our lives shine, point, and speak to everyone who is seeking God that He is coming. May we heed to what the Gospel calls us to do so we can remove the cancer of evil eating us alive and stealing our joy. May we produce good fruits as evidence of our genuine, heartfelt, and humble conversion so that God is our everything.