St. Catherine & the Sacrament of Confession: “the Fruit of the Blood”

March 15, 2011

Dominican Friars have been known throughout the centuries for the special ministry of hearing confessions. Some of our churches offer many hours for confession each week. During Advent and Lent here at the Dominican House of Studies, we frequently are asked to help with penance services in the area. Last Advent I went with 15 friars to one of the larger parishes in the Arlington diocese to help with confessions.

The Sacrament of Confession is called by St. Catherine of Siena, “Baptism through hope in the Blood.”  The image of blood is used to apply God’s mercy to the penitent to bring healing and forgiveness. As an on-going remedy for weakness it is an “on-going Baptism of Blood.”(1)  The “ministers who hold the key to the Blood” will “pour” the Blood over the soul of the penitent during the prayer of absolution.(2) Going to confession is an extraordinary experience for St. Catherine. Through confession, St. Catherine tells us, when “man comes out of the guilt of mortal sin, we see he is born anew every time.”(3)  If the penitent is able to confess his sins but chooses not to do so and simply has contrition, he will be deprived of the “fruit of the Blood.”(4)  It is a sacrament that should not be delayed in one’s life – particularly for someone considering a vocation. Along with Baptism, Penance hearkens back to the death of Christ where the Blood shed for humanity is ministered to the souls of the penitents restoring them to grace they originally drew from the power of the Blood in Baptism.
Finally, I would add that when a young man is regularly availing himself to the grace of the Sacraments of the Church (in particular the sacraments of Confession & daily Mass), he can be confident that any attraction he may have to Dominican life should be more seriously acted upon. It would then be a good time to call me and plan to come to one of our upcoming vocation weekends. May the “fruit of the Blood” which St. Catherine so eloquently speaks of be operative in your lives and in your discernment!
1 Dialogue, #75
2 ibid
3 Letters of St. Catherine of Siena, T305
4 Dialogue, #75
An Examination of Conscience written by Dominicans

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