I have a high school reunion coming up. It has been 30 years since I graduated from Watterson. I am seeing quite a few former classmates lately, and those from classes before and after my class of ’79. That in itself is not very interesting to you all, but what may be interesting is that more than once the topic of confession has come up. I’m not sure why the subject seems to be more prominent than usual. Perhaps some of us realize our actions over the years may be less than stellar. Maybe with the wisdom of age, as we reminisce, we now see some of our antics in high school are not just things that we hope our kids never do, but also maybe some “spiritual scrubbing” is in order. What is sad though is the number of people that are saying it has been 15, 20 or 30 years since their last confession. Please don’t take my comments as condescending. I can’t say I have been much better over the years. For a very long time I seldom went to confession and it has only been in recent years that I’ve rediscovered through God’s grace how powerfully God interacts with His people in the confessional. “Confession is good for the soul”. You all have heard the saying. It is true, a cleansing of the conscience brings peace. What saddens me is how so many people by avoiding confession carry with them so much undo burden. God is here for His people, he literally died so that our burden can be lifted. When we avoid the confessional we do not let God give us one of His greatest gifts, His mercy. Heck yea, confession is not pleasant. It can be uncomfortable, heavy and sometimes downright painful. It is that way though because we are realizing the burden of guilt and pain of sin…but remember it is sin we put on our hearts all on our own. In God’s great mercy through the sacrament of Confession we have the ability to extricate our pain and suffering and hand it over to God and receive His forgiveness. I think the uncomfortable nature of going to confession comes from bringing our sin, sin that we repress and bury, to the surface so that it can be dealt with by God. Once we receive God’s forgiveness and feel His love and mercy we no longer have to repress our guilt.
I have been going to confession more often these days. We most commonly think of the need for confession when we do something wrong, something bad and we need forgiveness. Last I knew no one refers to me as “Saint Patrick of Ohio”, so I have ample need for the sacrament. However, I find an additional attraction to the confessional these days in the desire to participate in the sacrament, to be in the presence of God at work. More than once I have felt the need to go to confession when
I have been wronged, or there are significant family issues to be dealt with. Not sure why, unless it is perhaps that if I have a clear conscience I may be in a better position to deal with stuff I can’t control. That line in the Our Father comes to mind right now. “Forgive me Lord, just like I forgive those who hurt me”. Perhaps by going to confession I have a greater propensity to be able to forgive others, just as I hope God forgives me. Since each of us are part of the “Body of Christ”, doesn’t it also stand to reason that anytime a member of that community is cleansed and in a state of grace that the whole of the body benefits?
My prayer tonight is for those who bear the burden of sin without confession. May they allow God to remove the weight carried for so long.