Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
I had my doubts before sending this article. Teresa doesn’t talk about the
Sacrament of Reconciliation in her First Mansion. It is true that She often, in her life, used to partake of this sacrament. I recommend a general confession as a starting point and a commitment of a desire to lead a spiritual life.
My experience along the years has taught me, that when someone is full of guilt (the more the merrier) and wants to turn to a life with God , it helps a lot to get rid of that burden , that overwhelms and may even kill people.
Normal people who read, and above all those who come from the world of evil and have caused major damage to their fellowmen, they may accept a general confession of all their lives , it can do well to them. Is there anything better than receiving God-Love and Merciful Father´s hug? He who receives us with open arms, as He did to the Prodigal Son. Is there a greater act of humility and of self knowledge than to trust your life in someone, knowing that God , Himself, is behind?
For Teresa, the sacraments -even though they are not her theological scope-
are medicine, ointment, oil and food for the journey. Its importance will be
understood once we´ll get to the Seventh Mansion, in the mystical rapture, chapter 6. She frequently practised the sacrament of reconciliation; once she would meet a spiritual director for the first time, she would have a general confession. We can never forget our duty to repair -to the greatest extent possible- the harm we have caused.
I really like the image used by Catherine of Siena, that brave woman (XIV 2
century). The puppy , guardian of the conscience , which barks at us when
the conscience shows us that we have committed a sin. That image was not
taken by Teresa but it was recollected by Juan of Ávila, patron saint of Spanish priests. There isn´t anything better, when we start a spiritual life or when we want to turn back to God, than calm the puppy down. I have often seen this myself with criminals. Prisoners in jail would loudly bark
once they remember their guilt. The quiet puppy is the person´s resurrection guarantee.
A few days ago when Pope Francis visited Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin, he reminded the conditions that a confessor should have. The Pope answered the friar –who had told him that in the Centre everyone who comes is received and helped without being asked about their private matters: «One more thing and then (turning to the poor) I will speak to you. Another thing that you said touched my heart. That you don´t ask any questions. It is Jesus who comes (in the poor). You ask no questions. You accept life as it comes, you give comfort and, if need be, you forgive. This make me think-as a reproof- of those priests who instead live by asking questions about other people´s lives and who in confession dig, dig, dig into consciences. Your witness teaches priests to listen, to be close, to forgive, and not to ask too many questions. To be simple, as Jesus said that father did who, when his son returned, full of sins and vices. That father did not sit in a confessional and start asking question after question. He accepted the son´s repentance and embraced him. May your witness to the people of God, and this heart capable of forgiving without causing pain, reach all priests. Thank you!»