“If you decide to reform your life in the bit of time that is still left for you, God is so gracious and merciful that he will have mercy on you and receive you graciously into his arms… For God’s mercy is greater than our sins, so long as we are willing to change and vomit out the filth of sin in holy confession with a determination to choose death rather than return to our vomit.” (St Catherine of Siena T21)
Jesus Christ gave Himself for each and every one of us on the cross so that we might attain eternal life through Him. Jesus gave His apostles the authority to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18) concerning sin, this is done through the Sacrament of Confession (Penance). The Sacrament of Confession is a gift, which God has given us to those who stain themselves with sin after the Sacrament of Baptism. If we are able to continuously humble ourselves and come before Christ to confess our sins we will receive immense graces that will restore our unity with God and protect us against falling into sin in the future. It is good to receive the Sacrament of Confession at least twice a month. It is also in keeping with the First Saturday devotion if you do in the prescribed manner. One who is not in the state of grace cannot advance in holiness and obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tell us that even a righteous man sins seven times a day (Proverbs 24:16), so we must strive to keep ourselves free from the stain of sin and remain in a state of grace so we can progress in virtue.
Of course one must develop a healthy disdain for sin, which can only be instilled by constant prayer and petition to God. One must truly repent for their sins. Many today do not understand that when we sin we stand before Our Lord guilty for having offended Him. Yet, Our Lord is always waiting for us to turn from that sin and come to Him. Mother Mariana constantly lived her life in a state of grace. Our Lord was pleased with her prayers. Mother Lucia of the Cross at the Conceptionist convent saw Our Lord Jesus come to her giving an important message. She saw Our Lord with His Sacred Heart exposed surrounded with thorns around it, bleeding, pouring out a sea of blood. Our Lord said to her, "In this sea of My Heart's Blood I am ready to wash the guilt of those who, being repentant, have recourse to Me." Through prayer we must learn to weep for our sins and make a firm purpose of amendment to turn from them before we receive this precious Sacrament. We should never take the Sacrament for granted. Denis the Carthusian warns, “Wretched one, what use is it to you daily to confess? For shortly after having confessed, and at the conclusion of the Sacrament, you are shameless, thoughtless and unguarded as before. What kind of contrition is that?" So we strive to strengthen our souls by reverently visiting the Sacrament of Confession.
It is important to reflect for a moment on corporal works. In today’s world much stress is given to corporal works and very little to the spiritual works. Even worse, people confuse corporal works and social works, which are often the focus of many Catholic groups. Yet, without a foundation first being built upon prayer and holiness, works are often worth little. We must understand that active works are only truly “good” works when they are united to divine grace. This implies first off that one’s soul be free from the stain of mortal sin. One cannot do works of charity outside the realm of supernatural grace. “The good that is done in grace (without deadly sin) is of value for eternal life because it is done in grace. But the good that is done with the guilt of deadly sin is worth nothing for eternal life.” (God the Father: St. Catherine of Siena Dialogue 46) Keeping this in mind, frequent visits to the Sacrament of Confession will keep us in the state of grace so that we may be capable of actually producing good works.