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Appreciating the Sacrament of Confession

AUTHOR Fr Michael de Stoop says his new book has a “bloom versus doom” approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“It’s about reminding people of all ages what the sacrament gives – gifts like self knowledge and spiritual direction; rather than only looking at what it takes away – sins,” he said.

It’s also been designed to develop young people’s appreciation of the sacrament’s many benefits, especially in the time of renewed spiritual enthusiasm in the lead-up to World Youth Day 2008.

The Gift of Confession: A Positive Approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also about showing that the sacrament is much more than the spiritual equivalent of a trip to the dentist, Fr de Stoop said.

“In fact it is one of Christ’s greatest gifts to his followers,” he said.

“With this in mind, the book is presented like a gift in special wrapping.

“Within are 25 ‘bite size’ chapters, each describing a particular benefit Confession gives us.”

Fr de Stoop said the book talked about the sacrament’s many other benefits such as increasing opportunities to share in God’s divine life.

“Thus, Confession frees us from sin, and also restores our freedom to live a life of virtue by restoring within us the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“The grace we receive strengthens our will to resist sin, thereby enabling us to progress in holiness.”

Fr Stoop said the sacrament also makes praying easier since it brings people closer to God.

The 35-year-old priest – ordained in 2001 and now director of vocations in Sydney archdiocese and chaplain for Catholic Youth Services – started writing the book three years ago.

The Gift of Confession: A Positive Approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with a foreword by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, was launched in Brisbane and Toowoomba last month and in Melbourne, Ballarat and Sydney this month.

Fr de Stoop said he was not far into his priesthood when he started the journey to writing the book.

“I was asked to give spiritual direction to Catholic Youth Services and chose a talk on the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” he said.

“The response confirmed my thoughts that the sacrament had unjustly received a bad rap.

“However, many who heard the talk also suggested I should expand my thoughts into a book.”

As part of Fr de Stoop’s “road testing” of the book, he showed it to a number of bishops and priests to ensure doctrinal accuracy.

He also gave it to many young people to read, using their feedback to ensure it was easy to comprehend.

“As a result, many including the un-churched, have told me it’s a very easy book to read and understand,” he said.

Each of the book’s 25 chapters concludes with questions for personal reflection or group discussion.

The book’s appendices cover topics like the seal of Confession, common misunderstandings about sin, as well as a guide for a good confession.

A pocket-sized 67-page abridged version of the book, divided into two sections: Questions About Sin and Questions About Confession, is also available.

Those wishing to obtain a copy of The Gift of Confession: A Positive Approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation can order it from their local Christian bookshop or online at

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