This is what I feel when I go to confession…once I am in there. Prior to the moment in the picture above, it can feel like a fight for my eternal soul (at times). I usually go to confession aka the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least every two weeks. I feel better when I do. I’m human. I make mistakes. I sin….fairly often. So do you….but that really isn’t my business most of the time.
Going to confession can feel embarrassing. Especially when I end up confessing the same things over and over and OVER. Not long ago, I ended up in the confessional a train wreck of guilt and shame. I was confessing the same thing, AGAIN. It hurt, I was ashamed, and I really did not want to talk about it. (Side note: I prefer face to face confessing. It is an option, even in the confessional. One side, you go behind a screen. The other side is an extra chair and you are face to face with a priest.) Back to the story at hand…
I was a ball of pain, pity, and agony. I asked Father Jim one question. “Why should I confess this sin and that I am contrite when I KNOW at some point soon, I am going to do this again?” I’ve been confessing this sin(s) for quite a while. It gets frustrating. The nice thing about going to confession face to face with the same priest is that you can build a relationship with him. Fr. Jim knows me pretty well. He looked me in the eye and said, “Do not presume to understand the depth and breadth of God’s mercy. Keep confessing, keep avoiding the occasion of sin.” He said some other things, but I want to keep those little treasures close to my heart.
I cannot begin to tell you all the wonderful things about going to confession. I can tell you one thing I have learned though. The former Catholics, the fallen away, the “recovering” Catholics, the angry ones, and the ones who grudgingly admit they were raised catholic seem to have one thing in common. They are hostile towards the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I understand and am not judging them. I cannot let my struggles guilt and shame me into staying away from Christ. The struggle can be difficult. Once I am in the confessional, my fear slips away. I am able to admit my faults and mistakes. I am truly sorry and regretful. I detest them. I am human though, and very frail. I screw up. All. the. time. I don’t do it on purpose, knowing I can confess it later. That would be a blessing in a way. No. I wake up, do my best, and fail. Everyday. I believe that when I confess my sins to the priest, that Christ is standing there. The absolution given by the priest only has worth because Christ gave it to the priests, here.(John 20:23)
Prior to any sacrament of reconciliation it is customary to examine ones conscience. There are numerous guides, checklists, apps, and suggestions for doing this. All of them have one thing in common. They only work as well as the person doing it is willing to be honest. I have used several. I was recently given a different one called, “A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession” by, Fr. Richard J. Rego. Its brevity belies the wealth of information it contains to help one on their journey to reconciliation.
Here is a quote I would like to share with you
…”Frequent reception of Holy Communion without the practice of frequent confession leads to a sterile and ritualistic reception of the Lord Jesus. these two great sacraments ought to go hand in hand. In reality, the more on receives our Lord in Holy Communion, the more he should realize his own unworthiness and his own inner need to be cleansed in the Sacrament of Penance…The more we receive the Sacrament of Penance the more we understand our own helplessness and human weakness..our complete dependence on the Savior.”
This is proving very true for me. I realize more as each day passes, just how much I need Christ in my life.
If you have been avoiding going to confession, I urge you to go. Lent is coming. That is a great time of year to go. If you are scared to go, take someone (me) with you. You can also call your (a) priest and make an appointment. I pray that you go.