What is the Whole-Life Confession?

Hello, I’m Father Bill Watson, President of the Sacred Story Institute.

I want to introduce you very briefly today to the reconciliation experience, which we call the Whole-Life Confession, that happens at the end of Part One of Forty Weeks: An Ignation Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer.

The Whole-Life Confession comes after what I like to describe as 12 weeks of spiritual archaeology on your life history, a way of bringing all the different story lines of your together, so that you can then offer it to Jesus, whom I like to call The Divine Physician, in 40 weeks.

Offer your whole life to him as an offering of gratitude for the gift that you have received, and also focus on the specific areas of your life where you need healing and Jesus as The Divine Physician the most.

It’s not a confession of everything you’ve ever done in your life. I like to call it a Whole-Life Confession because if focuses on the core issues, gratitude, the particular areas that you find most problematic so that you can find a way to bring your whole life to Christ at the beginning of this 40-week journey.

Where does the Whole-Life Confession Originate?

The whole-life confession: a confessional with open door in an ornate wooden church

The Whole-Life Confession is modeled on St. Ignatius’ confession early in his conversion process that he made at the Monastery of Montserrat. In those days, you were given lists of sins of every possible description and shape and size and intensity, rightness, wrongness, small, large, and you wrote everything out, and then you gave this written confession to your confessor and that’s how you did it.

I know it was a very foundational experience in Ignatius’ conversion process, and I wanted to make it a part of the 40-week program as well. So, again, it’s a confession of particular issues after you’ve had a time to organize your thoughts, your heart, listen to your life story, and then bring your whole life to Christ in this great sacrament of reconciliation.

How was the Whole-Life Confession Developed?

Let me say something about it. When I was doing my doctoral work on this particular form of the Ignation examination of conscience that is 40 weeks, I had test groups because I wanted to test the method of what worked and what didn’t work. The process for the Whole-Life Confession is writing out in 1000 thousand words or less, keeping it very, very focused, these particular areas of your life that you need to be grateful for and find healing from The Divine Physician.

I selected people and I put them in two different groups. I had some people simply write the letter, but then I had some people write the letter and then bring that letter to confession and read the letter in confession. And when we go to confession, we think that we’re confessing to the priest, but we’re confessing to the Lord, and the priest is merely the means of mercy and how the sacramental graces of confession are given by Christ to the one going to confession.

This is what I discovered with those two groups. The people who did the process, took the time, wrote the letter out, AND took it to confession, were the ones who grew the most spiritually over the course of the test period that I had set. And they were also the ones who remained the most faithful to the daily discipline of the Ignation Examen in the 40-week method.

The Whole-Life Confession: Be Not Afraid!

So I just want to give you that encouragement, and I want you to be not afraid, don’t bend to the fear, overcome the mountain of fear and anxiety that you may feel with regards to this confession, this Whole-Life Confession, because we try to make it very clear that fear is authored not by Christ, The Divine Physician, but by the one that St. Ignatius calls the enemy of human nature.

If you need some encouragement, go to our website under the member section, and there’s a folder in there with documents that describes people’s experience of the Whole-Life Confession, both priests who heard those confessions and people who made the confession, how powerful, how grace-filled and how hope-filled it is.

(If you’re not a member yet, you can register for free here.)

So give yourself this opportunity to do the Whole-Life Confession. Don’t put it off. Do it and you will be blessed and you will be grateful, and as always, I’m keeping you in my prayers. Father Bill Watson, Founder of the Sacred Story Institute, speaking to you briefly on the value, purpose, and grace of the Whole-Life Confession. God bless you.

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