“Confession is an act of honesty and courage – an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God” (Pope John Paul II).
I was terrified at my first Reconciliation. As a socially anxious seven-year-old, the idea of having to tell my sins to a priest I didn’t really know was panic-inducing. But I did it, because I was seven, and that’s what you do in second-grade CCD.
I hadn’t gone since, because at 28, Confession was still frightening. And, after all, I hadn’t killed anyone. I hadn’t committed adultery. Did I really need to go?
Over the past year, as I’ve been getting more involved in church and the local young adult group, I’ve been thinking about Confession a lot. Or, rather, the Holy Spirit has been hinting to me about it a lot. But seeing a therapist felt exhausting enough – going to Confession still seemed like an insurmountable obstacle.
Yesterday, though, I did it. I’d already been thinking that Lent was a good time to go again, and then I found out that it’s strongly recommended to go to Confession before consecrating yourself in Marian Consecration. Today is Consecration Day, so yesterday, I went to my parish, St. Raphael, during the weekly Reconciliation time. I sat, trying to read St. Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle” while I waited. (I had a C.S. Lewis book in my purse, but in my heightened level of anxiety, I felt like it would be bad to read a Protestant book while waiting for Confession. I know. Silly.
Another side note: Trying to read “The Interior Castle” while you’re anxious is not an easy task.)
Finally, it was my turn. I prayed to the Holy Spirit, asking for guidance and a good Confession. I had my journal with me, where I had done something of an Examination of Conscience, listing the sins that I wanted to confess. Up until yesterday, I’d thought I’d sit face-to-face with the priest, but I ended up kneeling behind the screen. My journal stayed in my purse, and I just spoke to the priest, telling him it had been 21 years since my first – and last – Confession, and then confessing to him.
Y’all, Reconciliation is my new favorite thing. The grace, the compassion, the mercy that I experienced was beautiful. I never understood before why Catholics do the whole Confession thing. After all, why can’t we just ask God directly for forgiveness? But I think that’s missing the point. First of all, how many of us truly take the time to consider our sins and then ask for forgiveness? I told myself I did that, but I didn’t. Confession gives us the chance to truly examine our consciences and apologize to God. The priest offers guidance that we can’t find on our own, and then God actually speaks through him, telling us that He forgives us, that He has infinite mercy for us. That’s pretty incredible.
Why wouldn’t Catholics do the whole Confession thing?