During the past 30 or so years the confession lines have gotten very short! This is due to many factors. There was a lot of bad advice given about confessions. The idea that we could go directly to Jesus and obtain forgiveness was appealing to many. At communal penance celebrations we were sometimes told to mention only one sin. We were often encouraged to go to confession only during Advent and Lent and some parishes did away with regularly scheduled weekly confessions.
During those years we were experiencing a “new morality” in the Church. There were those who were contending that sexual sins, such as masturbation and premarital sex, were not serious sins. Artificial birth control seemed to be the way to go.
With all these conflicting ideas many of us began to feel that confession wasn’t that important.
Today we are finding that regular confession is good for us. Even psychologists are recommending it. Developing a good pattern for confession is essential for the development of our spiritual lives. That is the reason for this blog, to help you get back to confession and to share your journey with others.
Here are some examples of experiences that people have shared with me in the past.
This is from a 40-year-old male:I wish I could put into words the transformation in my faith that has occurred over the past several months. For years I have avoided the confessional largely out of fear, justifying my evasiveness with the same rationalizations that all of us use, “I don’t want my priest to know these things about me.” “I don’t have time to get there; God knows I’m sorry, etc.
“I have occasionally participated in communal confessions to appease my conscience, but knowing I would not seek out Fr. Ernie. After all, how could I ever look my pastor in the eye again. I would anxiously try to decide what line to get into, asking myself, “Does this priest know me? Does he look like a nice guy? Will he get mad at me? What can I tell him? (as if I had to work hard to identify my sin). I would come up with a few sins for which to ask forgiveness, but always leaving feeling the same as when I started.
“A few months ago I happened to get a hold of the CD, “Healing and Holiness,” by Vinny Flinn. I listened to it on the way to work one day and my world turned upside down. My fears about confession were transformed into hope and eagerness. I realized that I not only needed but wanted to make a “true confession,” my first true confession as an adult anyway.
Still fearful about letting my pastor become aware of my deepest and darkest sins, I searched out the confession time of no less than eight churches. As I made arrangements to attend one of these churches, it hit me. God knows. How obvious. He does know and he has known my whole life. If he knows, who do I have to fear, Fr. Ernie? Come on.
“The next Saturday I found my way to Sacred Heart for confession. Bible in hand, shaking from head to toe I entered the confessional. I asked Fr. Ernie to hear my confession, my first true confession. Amid tears of shame (put on myself) I was transformed. That evening, for the first time in a long time, I received Holy Communion, in the way that the Lord expects. I received the Lord into my body in the state of grace.
“I look forward to confession now. I not only ask for forgiveness, but healing. I pray that those who truly desire a relationship with God will realize that it is our sins that impede this relationship. It is only through regular participation in the sacrament of reconciliation that we can remove these barriers and have the relationship with God that he so desperately desires to have with us.”
This one is from a 45 year old male convert to Catholicism: “I was not born into the Catholic Church. I converted to Catholicism soon after I was married. The process has been a journey. I have asked a lot of questions over the years and I am still learning.
The sacrament of reconciliation has been hard for me to understand. I thought that if God knew I was sorry for my sins then I should be forgiven; why do I need to talk to a priest? The more I read and the more I studied, once again I could not defend myself when my wife asked me why I don’t go to confession. I did not have a good reason! My only defense was that it was uncomfortable.
“One day I was home and my kids were having an argument; the older brother hit the younger one and made him cry. I know that after I talked to him he was sorry for hitting his little brother and he felt bad. Over the years I have learned that he needed to tell his younger brother that he is sorry and that he loves him and they hug. Kids forgive so much easier than adults. As adults we forget how good it feels to tell someone we are truly sorry. As Christians we know we sin but we don’t want to admit that we are sinners. Jesus commanded it.
“John 20:21-23 reads: ‘Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sends me I send you.’ And he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’
Fr. Ernie had been talking to me directly in his homilies about the sacrament of reconciliation and I knew that I could not avoid it any longer!
“I picked up a copy of the 10 Commandments article that Father had discussed in his homily. I read the pages several times. I had been to confession in the past, but as I prayed and put time into thinking about the examples of sin on the pages, I realized that I missed a lot.
I have appreciated and enjoyed the sacrament in the past, now was a wonderful opportunity for me to take it to the next level. I had examples that had truly explored my life and where I had let God down and it was time for a ‘true’ confession. Now it is time to become an adult Roman Catholic.
“I found my time with Father to be spiritual and comforting. A time for me to think about the faith that God has called me to and what I need to do to be a better person of that faith.”