I’m not a regular to the confession lines at my Church. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sacramental value and beauty of the forgiveness of sins – I do. If you’re struggling with going to confession I’ll be first in line to tell you about the incredible sacramental benefits and graces waiting to flood into your soul after you make a good confession. But if there is one sacrament that I have to prepare the most for, it’s the sacrament of reconciliation. If you want my honest opinion, I’ll admit it…I hate going.
Confession means admitting I messed up and don’t have it all together
I’m a perfectionist so confession rips into my heart. For the most part, I’m able to keep up a pretty good mask even when things are falling apart. I’ll say ‘it’s fine’ or ‘I’m good’ when people ask how I’m doing. So to go to confession and list areas where I’ve fallen means having to be vulnerable and admit that I’m not okay, and it’s not all good.
“A soul does not benefit from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble. Pride keeps it in darkness. The soul neither knows how, nor is willing, to probe with precision the depths of its own mercy. It puts on a mask and avoid everything that might bring it to recovery.” (Saint Faustina)
Confessions mean saying my sins out loud to the person the sin hurt the most
When I confess my sins in the confessional, the priest stands In Persona Christi, in the person of Christ. This means that the priest does not represent himself, or give the words of absolution as Father so-and-so, but he speaks as the Other – as Christ. This is beautiful. But it also means that I whisper through the screen (or face to face) to the one who I hurt the most. I listen the words of the man I nailed to the cross with my sins. Which is incredible for reparation and repair, and incredibly humbling.
Confession means admitting I haven’t improved much since the last time in the confessional.
For the majority of my confession, I spend time repeating the same sins that I said in confession the last time. Pride. Envy. Pride. Selfishness. Pride. Pride. Pride. It feels like I transform into a broken record the minute I walk into the confessional. When I really start to think about it, I discover that the reason I’m being repetitive is because I haven’t made a good effort to change. I haven’t avoided occasions of sin, sometimes I’ve even encouraged them.
“The confession of evil works is the first beginnings of good works” (Saint Augustine)
Confession means admitting I need help
I don’t ask for help often. When I get to the point of vocalizing stress or worries, the levels of stress and worry have hit pretty high levels. So to have to ask for help from Christ vocally is rough for me. I know He knows about my imperfection, but vocalizing and actually asking for advice and help is a large step. It is delving into humility, which given my top vice, is never easy.
“Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God” (Saint Pope John Paul II)
Confession means I have to change
There is a line in the Act of Contrition that yanks at me every time I say it. “..confess my sins, do penance and amend my life.” Amend my life. Amend means to “alter by a formal procedure.” The word itself is French, amender, around the early thirteenth century. It meant “to free from faults, to rectify.” To free…to walk free. But that means that I shouldn’t desire to go chain myself again to the same sins. I have to change my daily life and run away from those occasions of sin. I have to change…
My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change. And so it will be until I am purified and melted by the fire of Your love and fused into one with You.” (St. Augustine)
Yet however many reasons I can come up with for not going to confession, I still need the sacrament. In fact, my avoidance of the sacrament shows that my soul needs it even more than I think. The devil doesn’t want us to go to confession – he doesn’t want us to repair our relationship with Christ. My soul craves closeness with my maker, and sin blocks me from fullness of communion with HIM.
This weekend I’m headed to the confessional line…will you join me in the sacrament?