“Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.”
Some of us are in tune with our cars. As soon as we hear a rattle or grind or feel a pull or hesitation we know that something is up. We may try to ignore it and hope it goes away, but soon it is all we hear and we may have thoughts of being stranded at the worst possible moment. We are thankful when we have a trusted mechanic who can make our car and us feel better. Some of us are in tune with our bodies. As soon as we feel a sore throat, discomfort in our digestive system, or a new ache in a joint we know that something is up. We may try to ignore that, too, hoping a good night’s sleep will cure it.
When I lived in Texas I had a sinus infection, but the first course of antibiotics didn’t work. My doctor said it might be dental and I should see a dentist. I know my body well enough to know it wasn’t, but I saw the dentist. He said it wasn’t dental and the second course worked. We are thankful when we have a doctor or dentist who listens to us as we listen to our own bodies and helps us to feel better. Some people are really in tune with their spirit.
I have a very good vantage point as the confessor. A few people will say without hesitation or embarrassment, on a regular basis, that something is up and they need to go to Confession. They know their thoughts and feelings and know when it’s time for a spiritual check-up.
Many times I don’t have to say anything much at all. They can distinguish their own shortcomings from the words and actions of others with whom they interact most often. They work to determine what is happening in their life and why. I consider it an honor to have folks confide very intimate aspects of their life with me and to help guide them with questions, observations, and suggestions. I am always pleasantly surprised when someone makes a good Confession. The sincere introspection and the attempt to be precise about their struggles shows that they really take full advantage of the grace of the sacramental Mystery.
I can see in those who make return visits a real effort to put new ideas and habits into practice. It has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with the priest-confessor. He is there as a guide and witness and to convey God’s mercy. I tell the penitents this sacramental Mystery is all about them. Think of the confessional moments in the Gospels. How does Jesus interact with the Samaritan woman at the well, or the woman caught in adultery, or Peter after his denial? Those are some of the most peaceful, grace-filled moments of Jesus’ ministry. He can be tough with the Jewish authorities or firm in His teaching, but He is always gentle and merciful with the repentant sinner.
This is the season of Penance. As we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery once again, we are encouraged to bring ourselves to the Fount of Mercy and initiate and participate in our own healing. We are able to make ourselves right with God, Church, others, and ourselves by allowing God’s mercy to wash over us. This is the season of Reconciliation.
Think about it.
Just do it.