The Healing Nature of Confession: My True Feelings About Confession

 

I have a confession to make – I found writing an article on Confession extremely difficult… for two reasons. First, my personal feelings about Confession are intensely deep, some of which I previously explored. Secondly, this is a sacrament which very many Catholics, let alone non-Catholics, have difficulty understanding. I have struggled to put into words the emotion and thought about this sacrament.

In short, Confession is a sacrament of healing – healing wounds which sever us from embracing God in His infinite glory, and from receiving His embrace. According to the Church, in order to be a Catholic in good standing, or considered a practicing Catholic, one must attend Confession once a year (during the Easter season), or when under pain of mortal sin. As a practicing Catholic, if you have not been to Confession in a year, or have committed a mortal sin, you are not supposed to take Communion at Mass until you have entered into that power of healing the Confessional provides. For more on what constitutes a mortal sin, I recommend checking the conditions of a mortal sin (must be a grave matter, you must know and understand it to be a grave matter, and you must willingly choose to commit the sin anyway).

That said, many Catholics, myself included, struggle to attend Confession at times.

The Healing Nature of Confession_

Take a look at the picture above – how the beauty of the land and sky is reflected so clearly in the water. Every bit of the landscape is perfectly etched into the vision of the water, and all the beauty and splendor is reflected back upon the landscape.

Confession is like that picture.

When we make an Examination of Conscience to prepare for Confession, all of our actions are reflected back upon us. We are the landscape – beautiful, majestic, glorious…

…and flawed.

To go to Confession, we must take a hard look at what we have done, or in some times, failed to do, which may have offended God. And, that is the most daunting aspect of Confession.

Preparing for Confession is, perhaps, the most humbling activity in which I routinely participate. Preparing for the sacrament reflects my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my nightmares, my failures, and my successes. It holds me accountable – not to my priest, and not to my husband or family.

Instead, I am held accountable to myself – and, to Christ.

Preparing for Confession is, perhaps, the most humbling activity in which I routinely participate … The act of a solid preparation holds me accountable – to myself, and to Christ.

My struggle with this sacrament is rooted in the sin of pride – which is known as the devil’s favorite sin.

I don’t look forward to having to put my pride aside. I don’t look forward to having to admit I don’t have all the answers, and that I need help to get through life. I don’t look forward to having to acknowledge I am not the master of my universe.

But, I need to put my pride aside at times.

I need to admit I don’t have all the answers, and that I need help from someone outside myself.

I need to acknowledge there is One greater than I

…because there is.

Heading into this healing sacrament, my soul knows Christ is there, ready, willing, and wanting to offer His love, friendship, grace, and forgiveness, which is probably why, in many instances, my soul feels lighter upon leaving the Confessional and completing the penance.

Because Christ is present!

And, through the body of the priest, He is extending His forgiveness of my sins.

Each time I head to Confession, He is bringing me closer to Himself. I am constantly bringing Christ to the forefront of my thoughts, trying to live a life closer with Him, and trying to lead a life that will make Christ proud.

Confession gives me a natural point where I reflect upon all I have done to make Him proud, and analyze the areas where I may have not acted in a Christ-like manner.

So, if you haven’t been to Confession in a while, I urge you – make use of the penitential season of Lent, and go! Two of my favorite places to seek an Examination of Conscience can be found at these two links: the Examination of Conscience for Married Couples by U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Examination of Conscience for Adults provided by St. William of York in Northern Virginia. You will not shock the priest – not with your sins, and not with the length of time its been since your last Confession. If anything, you may just receive a hearty embrace, and a welcome Home!

God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking His mercy.

Pope Francis

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This month’s CWBN Blog Hop is all about Confession. Head over to Reconciled to You to check out other bloggers’ thoughts and feelings on this pretty awesome, healing sacrament.

I’d love to hear from you – what are your thoughts on Confession? How do you work through your struggles to attend?

**UPDATE: Based on a private conversation earlier, an edit has been made to strike Confession as a requirement during the Easter season. What is required, according to the third precept of the Catholic Church is reception of the Eucharist once a year, during the Easter season. The second precept of the Catholic Church is to go to Confession once a year. However, in order to worthily receive Communion, one must be in a state of grace (having committed no mortal sins, or having gone to Confession), therefore, one could argue that it would behoove a Catholic to attend Confession during the Lenten/Easter season, in order to be in a state of grace to receive Communion! For more information, please visit the Vatican’s website, or speak to a trusted priest, since the power to absolve sins is based on Apostolic Succession!**

 

 

24 Comments

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  1. We try to go at least once a month as a family. Luckiky, we have many parishes around with varying times on Saturday and Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While I am not a Catholic, I thank you for those words from Francis: “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking His mercy.” Their truth breaches walls of denominations and even faiths. That is who he is.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So true! Pope Francis’ quote is absolutely beautiful, and to me, astounding in how “simple” the truth is – because he is correct. We, as flawed beings, are truly the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness.

      I know you are not Catholic, but when you have a moment, I encourage you to do some Googling on the Divine Mercy image. The Divine Mercy devotion is so striking in how much God wants to share His love and mercy – He wants us to seek Him out, and is there, waiting for us to turn to Him. If we only step outside our human comfort zone and trust Him wholeheartedly (easier said than done at times)!

      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhhh pride. Gets me every single time! It’s my root sin.

    Love this post, Anni. You teach the truth without lecturing, and that’s awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. mrsedavis1999 March 21, 2017 — 15:46

    This is so good Anni. Confession is only required yearly, but to me, that is harder. My goal is monthly and I’d like to get to the point that it is weekly. That said – Thank you for your BEAUTIFUL post and the realization that my pride needs to be taken down a notch. This is a great quote, “Preparing for Confession is, perhaps, the most humbling activity in which I routinely participate … The act of a solid preparation holds me accountable – to myself, and to Christ.” awesome.
    Blessings,
    Em

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Heading into this healing sacrament, my soul knows Christ is there, ready, willing, and wanting to offer His love, friendship, grace, and forgiveness, which is probably why, in many instances, my soul feels lighter upon leaving the Confessional and completing the penance.” I love, love love this. I feel so confident in my confessor, and that he really truly is standing in for Christ. I’ve had an amazing string of confessors who’ve helped me overcome sins in my life in beautiful ways. Sometimes my confessor laughs at me… which is humbling in itself. And you’re right, I always breathe easier when it’s all done. Thank you for writing this! I’ll be doing some reflecting on the gift of confession tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My last Confession was the first time I really had a priest laugh at me. Oddly enough, I was comforted by it… I had been curious/worried something was a sin, but didn’t understand how it could be a sin, and didn’t want him to think I was losing sleep over it or being over-scrupulous!

      You also touched on something important – I have always appreciated anonymity in Confession, but in the past year or so, I am beginning to understand and appreciate having one (of two) go-to chaplains/priests! I feel as if they are getting to know me, the more I feel as though they are receptive to the stirring of Christ’s messages for me.

      I am so appreciative of your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well thought-out post, Anni. Thank you! I find that when I go to Confession regularly (monthly or so), it is easier. When time extends past that, I drag my feet! On the first Friday in February, I stumbled upon Confession being offered before Mass. (I was there for the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blaise.) I wasn’t prepared at all, but I jumped at the chance. Now, I am trying to make it on every First Friday going forward … I may not do this perfectly, but it is helping me keep the Sacrament on my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! That is a great schedule! I also try to go monthly – sometimes it’s a month and a half between. I’ve noticed it’s easier for me to take account of my sins, and approach the Confessional when I go regularly. But, some months are easier, while others are still more difficult.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  7. Thanks for the Examination of Conscience links. I will definitely check those out. I think examining one’s conscience daily is a good spiritual practice. And thank you for the encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pride is so hard to get rid of. You are so right acknowledging the need to confess is so very humbling. I always wonder why when God already knows what we have done and is just waiting for us.
    I am with Brandon….I am not Catholic but I love the Francis quote!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Catholics also believe we can go directly to God Himself. In fact, we are encouraged to make an Examination of Conscience nightly – although, I am still working on that one. 😉 During the Examination, that is the prime opportunity to confess directly to Him.

      However, we also adhere pretty strictly to the Matthew 16:18-20 verses in the Gospels, in which Jesus informs Peter that, “upon this rock [rock, translated from Aramaic I believe is Cephas, which is also a translation into “Peter”] I will build my church… whatever you bin on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” There’s also reference to people confessing their sins in Mark 1:5.

      What I explained to my Confirmation class I’m teaching is that, not only do we believe in the Biblical basis, but what Confession allows *me* to know, is, with the Matthew passage – I know, without a doubt, when I leave the Confessional, that my sins have been forgiven. So, if anything happens, my soul has been made alright with God. Which is a pretty awe-some feeling (and, why I alluded to my soul feeling at peace once I’ve finished my penance).

      I love Pope Francis’ ability to reach across denominational divides to expand and share the Good News of the Gospel! He has several different quotes on various subjects which are phenomenal, and really hit at the heart of Christianity. Since Catholicism is rooted in Christianity, I think he is really invested in bridging the gap between the Catholic Tradition of Christianity, and the Protestant traditions. Often times, he amazes me in his words!

      Sorry – I may have answered more than you cared to know… I just wanted to make sure that anyone else that may read the comments also knew the Tradition of Catholic teaching behind Confession. It would take me several blog posts (and several highly interested readers) to really unfold those layers of Catholic Teaching!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I visited and noted “An Examination of Conscience for Married Persons” (USCCB) for later reading.

    Good points throughout. Confession/sacrament of reconciliation is still probably my least-favorite sacrament. Also one which makes me very glad to have become a Catholic. Liking something and recognizing its value is, as you point out, not the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree – I have a love/hate relationship with it! I love the graces which come from it, but man, does it stink to go sometimes. I’ve been up front with some people on social media today – some months are easier than others!

      I also appreciate your looking into the “Examination of Conscience for Married Persons” – that is a relatively new Examination to me. I think I stumbled upon it a couple months ago, as I was trying to go further into details with some of the other Examinations. I like how it is tailored to point out ways that I can legitimately work on my marriage… since, I strongly believe the purpose of the Examination is also to highlight areas of improvement.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anni–thank you so much for this post! I have a feeling I´ll be re-reading it somewhat regularly. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pride seems to be the biggest downfall for us all. Confession is such a humbling experience. It makes us really look at ourselves and see what our faults truly are. Often we don’t like what we find. I’m sure that’s why so many avoid this blessed sacrament. We live in a world where we are encouraged to blame others for our wrong doings. Owning up to our own sins and flaws takes a lot courage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so correct! Pride is a *huge* downfall… and, it can sneak in so quickly – which, perhaps is why the devil is known to favor it so much.

      And, I agree – in today’s culture we are encouraged to blame everyone & everything, rather than owning up to or mistakes. So, yes, it takes a LOT of courage to admit our sins.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

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