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When I was about 8 years old, I went to Confession. I think it was with my class. As a student of a Catholic school, it was one of the things we did as a grade once in a while.
I started saying my Act of Contrition, but in the middle . . . my mind went completely blank. I totally forgot the prayer.
In an effort to remember it, I started the Act over again.
The priest reprimanded me.
I went from feeling nervous to having total anxiety (although that word was never used by me until I was an adult).
When the priest told me “not to start over” I must have frozen; then I started over again or said “I need to start over again.”
I got reprimanded again.
I have to be honest, I don’t know how I ever even got out of there. How did it end? I don’t remember.
Probably with an unhappy priest and a nervous wreck brink of breakdown kid.
I’m wondering if you have one of those stories.
A memory when instead of feeling God’s Mercy, you felt . . . something else.
It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I realized that Jesus actually addressed situations like this when he revealed Himself to Saint Faustina.
He told her that the priest is only a screen and never to analyze what sort of priest it is that He is making use of. In other words, he knew the faults and shortcomings of priests might deter people from the Sacrament.
But Jesus assures us that no matter who the priest is, He will use that Sacrament to fill our souls with His Light.
If you do have a bad memory or simply a bad taste in your mouth, I want to say I’m sorry.
I also want to share with you that I got nervous before that event ever happened, and that I still don’t exactly “like” going.
Personally, I think that has something to do with pride.
I am so grateful that I didn’t let that experience stop me from experiencing the Sacrament again. I now have memories of a priest telling me a joke after I confessed my sins, of another priest telling me I need to be more patient with myself, and other memories that allow me to see that the Sacrament is often more comforting and helpful than it is a bad experience.
I know this Sacrament of Reconciliation is not the most celebrated in our world. It is one of those things non-Catholics and often Catholics, do not understand. I often hear people site Scripture to explain why they “don’t have to go”.
But I feel strongly about one thing – and that is the grace of God we receive through it.
God’s grace, God’s very own life within us, is an incredible gift. There may be more than one way to receive it – but my gut and faith tell me that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the greatest ways to receive it.
I hear many say, “I can tell God I am sorry privately.”
Yep. That we can do. Perhaps we should all do that more often.
But, I noticed something last month.
For Advent, I read a Chapter of the Gospel of Luke almost every night. Now, I have no degree in theology (If you are looking for more theological reasons, check out Lord Have Mercy by Scott Hahn) and do not know doctrine as well as many other Catholic writers do . . . but I will say, I noticed something about Jesus.
On several occasions noted throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus left where He was staying and go somewhere to pray. And I mean like a place other than another room. Like, a mountain or a garden. Somewhere He would have to travel. Somewhere that may have not been convenient for Him to go.
It really caught my attention how often He seemed to do that. He went off by himself to pray. Jesus, God Himself, prayed and went somewhere to do so.
So maybe we could and should do that more often . . . but do we?
I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history like now when it comes to individual busyness.
We are all so busy.
Think about what that does to our relationships? I’m often “to busy” to play with my children. I can’t help but think of that
Cats in the Cradle song.
Our Lord wants a relationship with us and that is a Catholic belief. In fact, as a recent video done by
Father Mike Schmitz reminded me . . . God doesn’t just want a relationship with us. He seeks intimacy with us.
Going to Confession is an act of both faith and love on our part. And Our Lord gives us His Mercy and a ton of His Grace in that act.
The Sacraments are a gift to us. Confession/Reconciliation/Penance – whichever you prefer to call it is no exception.
5 Reasons to put the Sacrament of Reconciliation on your to do list this week.
1.You truly desire to be the best version of yourself and to do good in this life. You also believe that the Saints provide us the best wisdom and example on how to do that in the eyes and heart of Christ.
According to Saint Augustine:
“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works. You do the truth and come
to the light.”
2. The gift of grace will be given to you there. Grace is an incredible gift! Like Catholic Answers describes:
“is a supernatural push or encouragement. It’s transient. It doesn’t live in the soul, but acts on the soul from the outside, so to speak. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. “
I love that. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. What I tell myself is that I need the “grace vitamin”. On top of forgiveness, it couldn’t hurt to get that help from God to hear, know and do His will. That’s how I describe it. Catholic Answers says, “supernatural push or encouragement.” I like that too.
3. It’s a sacrifice. An act against our pride. An act of humility. Perhaps you could do it as a gift to Jesus. Give Him your time. Trust Him. Visit Him in a unique way.
The act of going to confession is a gift of ourselves, our time and our trust to Our Lord. There are no healthy relationships where we only receive. There isn’t much we are asked to give Our Lord. Give Him a visit and the sacrifice of your time, and perhaps comfort as an act of love and faith.
4. It’s a great way to get some spiritual advice. I have met many more priests in the Confessional that have shown compassion and true concern for my soul and emotions than I have met that made me that nervous wreck kid. There are priests in the confessional offering advice, hope, reassurance and
5. God wants to use this Sacrament to fill our soul with His Light. He knows that we may have had a bad experience with a priest, and He is asking us to trust Him and look past that experience. But more than wanting us to trust in Him, He wants to fill us with His Light! That is extraordinary! Think about how much more we could love others when we refill our souls with His Light!
I want you to know I didn’t just write this letter for you.
I wrote it for me too.
Let’s stay connected and grow closer to Jesus together.
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If you have been thinking about going back to Mass . . . here’s another letter for you Dear Beautiful Woman Who Stopped Going to Church