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Monday, March 20, 2006

I think Confession is a misunderstood sacrament. Yeah, it's an obligation we have to go through when we sin (especially mortally) and all Catholics are required to go at least annually. (Although many don't; I didn't go for almost a decade at one point.) But it shouldn't be viewed as an obligation or a chore, but rather as a great opportunity to restore ourselves to God's grace by atoning for our sins and receive grace to avoid future ones.

When I first returned to Confession after that approximately 10 year absence, it was hard for me to go through. Opening up like that to someone I didn't know. (Although that was a lot easier than opening up to someone I did.) Fortunately, probably through God's direction, I found a great priest to confess to, who has now become my Spiritual Director who wasn't judgmental or angry with me, but welcomed me back and (at least pretended well) to be glad I had come back even with everything I had done in the meantime. After making my confession and performing my penance, I felt a sense of peace like I had never felt before come over me. I could really feel God's grace and love come over me. (As for why we must confess to a priest rather than just pray to God for forgiveness: here's my logic: 1) We sin against God, but also against the Church of Christ so we must make amends to Her as well. 2) The Church is the administrator of the sacraments, why should this one be any different? 3) Actually telling someone what we've done wrong is probably part of the penance. 4) Naming our sins helps us confront them and deal with them.)

That sense of peace was something I wanted to feel more, so I continued going to Confession. And here's the thing: I also began to experience after receiving Eucharist, which I never had before. I really experienced Christ's presence under the bread and wine for the first time.

I had a bad week last week for a variety of reasons. I was feeling down, on edge, and just kind of angry all the time. I went to Confession Saturday morning. (I try to go weekly.) I didn't realize it right away, but later that day I realized ever since I had gone to Confession I was feeling better: happier, calm and at peace. And not at all prone to the short-temperedness that might have led me to commit further sins.

We don't just have our past sins washed away in confession; we are given grace and strength to avoid future sins. (That's why I try to go every week; even if I've been "good" in the last week, I know I need the grace and strength to get through the next one.) The world would be a calmer, nicer place if more people took advantage of the opportunity Confession provides: the chance to get out of our rut of sinning, start over, with more strength than we had before we went in. We'd certainly be a lot closer to who Christ wants us to be.

That was a really beautiful post. Well done.

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