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Many years ago this booklet was inspired by a simple question my friend Father John McCloskey used as an icebreaker to help him bring hundreds of people into the Catholic Church or back to the practice of their faith. "When was the last time you went to Confession?"
Through God's grace, several hundred thousand copies later, Going Back to Confession has quietly inspired countless Catholics to happily (and often unexpectedly) return to the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Loving and Psychologically Sound
It's both humbling and thrilling. By making it available to as many people as you can possibly reach, you are essentially asking Father John's engaging question in a loving, psychologically-sound way on a large scale.
With the simple action of your leaving a handful in a church, this booklet can help people make the decision to return to Confession in a matter of minutes, especially those who have not been to this profound sacrament in many years.
Focusing on Absolution
After months of prayer, I became convinced a booklet of this kind should not emphasize sin because just about everybody already knows why they need repentance and healing (at least on some deep, perhaps hidden level).
Rather, I believe Jesus wanted the reader to consider foremost the supernatural event which takes place during Confession, namely, absolution. Absolution is the event, the divine action. It is what happens. It is misunderstood by virtually every Catholics I know.
Absolution is a miracle.
Absolution is the transformation of the soul to its baptismal state of unity with God. Even devout Catholics have received virtually no catechesis on this crucial aspect of the sacrament since they were children (if even then!).
From my first-hand experience of helping friends return to Confession (especially after many years, which is commonly the case), I knew that the practical aspects on how to actually get to Confession such as searching for local schedules online, how to make appointments, how to approach the priest, etc., would be important. I have yet to find a guide that provided practical advice on these kinds of things.
More crucial, however, this was the first Confessional guide to warn people about (and show them how to overcome) the spiritual warfare very few "prodigal" sons and daughters are spared. The devil is enraged when a soul he had confidently counted as a permanently lost sheep returns to our Good Shepherd!
The need to overcome the evil one's attempts to stop us from following through on the decision to return to a state of grace is absolutely crucial.
Dealing with Common Fears
There are understandable fears to allay. People need to be assured that virtually every contemporary priest is compassionate, well-trained, and kind. We also provide common sense advice on how specific one needs to be when confessing after many years away from the sacrament.
Finally, step by step, it includes the actually words used by the priest during absolution and how to make an Act of Contrition and do penance.
A Few Minutes from a Miracle
I am not smart enough to make anything up. I relied solely upon traditional Thomistic theology, infallible dogmatic truth, and sound theologian editors. We sought and received a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.
I strove for a direct, timeless style. I assumed readers are intelligent and rightfully wary of flowery religious jargon. Virtually every reader finds this booklet jolting, challenging, surprising, inviting, charitable in tone, and refreshing. All the above occurs in less than twelve pages that most folks can digest in a matter of minutes. No pressure. Just truth.
A Talent Meant to Benefit Others
Since childhood I've poured myself into to a developing a writing ability that I view primarily as a gift from Our Savior. I believe that Going Back to Confession is the culmination of that gift. Together, you and I, taking advantage of the unprecedented affordability of these booklets and relying on the mercy and grace of God, can bring more souls back to this astoundingly awesome experience of Jesus than perhaps any other initiative in the history of America.
My work on this surprising little booklet was completed in a matter of days many years ago. All the real work since has been done by thousands of people like you, who, like me, care about the eternal salvation of every individual person who comes into our circle of influence. It's up to you now.
About the Author
Bud MacfarlaneOne of the most popular Catholic novelists in America, Bud Macfarlane is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, a father of four, and a troublemaker from New Jersey (who lives in Ohio). In 1991 he started the Mary Foundation, the America's largest producer of Catholic tools for evangelization. Sign up for his legendary monthly email message or read his articles today.