Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Frequent Confession: My Hesitations

About a year ago I made a commitment to receive the the sacrament of reconciliation on a monthly basis as a way to grow closer to God. I didn't make this commitment without some hesitation however. One thing in particular kept me from it for a while; it felt silly. What I mean by that is that I don't go around breaking commandments in big ways anymore. That being the case, I was afraid that I would sound like a second grader to the priest and instead of making a good confession and feeling the Mercy of God that I would merely be reciting a list of the various and unexciting ways that I had "sinned". There are a couple of things that have gotten me past this.

First, I spoke to a priest and told the him that I wanted to receive reconciliation monthly but that I felt like I would sound like a child with "small and petty" sins. His response was two-fold. First, he said that if a person wishes to truly be close to God than no matter how "small" a sin may be it should seem as a great blight to that person. This put my "small and petty" sins into perspective. The second part of his response was to tell me that nuns go to confession every other week. In other words, women who have dedicated their lives to being holy find reason to frequent the sacrament even more than I wished to. So if the nuns can be holy women and not sound childish in the confessional then surely I will be alright.

Another thing I have found is that a long and through examination of conscience really helps me to prepare myself for a confession that is anything but childish. When I move beyond "I lied twice, I didn't pray enough, I lost my temper once", to truly examining what separates me from God, my sins no longer sound or seem childish. For instance, with a thorough examination "I lied" becomes "I lied out of pride to make myself seem better and superior to another. This is in direct violation of the command to love my neighbor as myself because I wanted to make him feel inferior to me." Now instead of sounding childish, I have gotten to the root of my sin. Now I and the priest can see it for what it is and what it is is the illnesses in a dying man. What it is is something that needs to be cured! And that is exactly what confession is for!

Sometimes even a year later I still have these hesitations. When it is coming up on the time of the month that I go to confession, I will being thinking that surely this time my confession will sound silly. However, I have never once left the confessional anything but very happy that I was there.

The very incident that prompted this post however happens to be that I was really struggling with these hesitations before my last confession. Even though I have been through this at least 12 times, it was happening again. I will leave you with a link to the chapter in "An Introduction to the Devout Life" which solved this problem for me for what I feel like may be the final time. Happy reading. 


togh said...

Very insightful comments Christian:) The purpose of confession is not to keep us out of hell but to bring us closer to God. The regular and frequent examination of our life helps us to see where we leave the path to God and try to make our own way.
Having a regular confessor/spiritual director helps to keep that monthly commitment and alleviates some of the feelings of silliness over our sins. Little sins that we repeat over and over again can be very harmful to our relationship with others and with God.
Thanks for putting your thoughts out there - they are worth listening to and I am sure will encourage someone who has not gone to the sacrament for a while or who is struggling with the same feelings you have to make the effort.

The Thief/Rev. Run said...

This is an incredibly insightful and thoughtful blog post. I reiterate what togh said above - confession exists to bring us closer to God. It sounds like you are on the right path.