A year ago there began a really intense longing in me for the Sacrament of Confession. Which is an odd thing for a, then, Protestant to so greatly desire. After all, I can confess my sins directly to Jesus (and of course we should). Such an antiquated idea that we need to confess our sins to any man.
But, for some unknown reason I just wanted to. I felt this tug, this longing for that special kind of communion and communication with Jesus.
I was in my Protestant church worship service and my heart was crying out to God. I said, “Is it OK, God, if I go to Reconciliation?” And the worship leader stopped the song, ready to start a new song, and said, “This song is for the reconciled.”
Fast forward a year. I kneel every week in Mass, longing for the Eucharist. And in conversation with my priest I dared to ask, “I know I am not prepared yet for the Eucharist. But, could I, may I, please have Confession. Reconciliation.”
There was a pause as he thought. He said, “I think that would be OK. Let me discuss it with the other pastor and see if he has an objections.” He discussed it and the answer was YES.
I was so nervous. Every time I thought about it, I was just a bundle of nerves and wondered if I would go through with it. Even though I so greatly wanted it, it was still way outside my experience and comfort zone.
For a week I worked it out in a notebook. Asking the Holy Spirit to shine a light into my soul and reveal anything and everything. It’s been almost 30 years since my baptism and I’ve never confessed anything pretty much to anyone. So there was a lot stored up.
Then the day came. And I walked into the Confessional. I told my sins. He said I was pretty thorough. I was in there a long time. There were some tears and some embarrassment. But, I know this: The devil hates humility. And when we humble ourselves, God draws near and lifts us up.
My pastor was so gracious, asking questions, clarifying things, mostly just actively listening.
I said the Act of Contrition.
He said the words of Absolution.
And OH MY WORD. Even now when I think of those words, my heart thrills. I just smiled. Like the rest of the day. Like I slept with a coat hanger in my mouth. The joy was just inexpressible. It was weirdly euphoric. And I could not stop being joyful. When I came home and the children were naughty, I did not lose that grace. When the car was broken and this and that happened, I just still felt that freedom. Like I wanted to hug everyone. Like everyone.
I’ve been to healing prayer. I’ve had inner healing and Sozo. Nothing compares to Confession. At the end of those various sessions in the back of my mind was still the thought, “You did x,y,z. You are forgiven, but you still did those things.” The stain was still there. Under the blood, but still there. Like Christ imputed His holiness to me, but didn’t actually make me holy. Just a dung pile, covered in snow. At the end of those other sessions I have been exhausted and weary.
But, Confession. Now that was completely different. That was Jesus saying to me, you are not your sin and it does not define you. You are part of my Bride. After Confession I felt energized and light.
Wow, that state of grace thing. Whoa. Anytime the enemy tries to remind me of the things I’ve done, I have this one concrete moment in time. I have those beautiful healing words of Absolution to point to and say, “Nope. That is not me. All that stuff has been drowned in the ocean of God’s mercy.” I don’t have to repent over them again. They really are finished.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ John 20:19-23
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:16
We need a change of perspective. Rather than thinking “I have to confess my sins.” We should think, “I get to confess my sins.” To no longer carry any weight of sin and to be in a state of friendship with God is the most magnificent feeling in the world.
Confession: It’s the Catholic Church’s best kept secret.