I have had two monumental confessions in my life. Let me rephrase that – two that I can remember. Obviously, my first confession was monumental, but I don’t remember a single thing about it. The two I remember and consider monumental took place in June 2010 and January 2011.
In June 2010, I was a leader at a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat. Confession was an option. I walked proudly into the confessional, and I had a conversation with the priest BEFORE confession even began. It was about things he had said during a homily that very much so offended me. It took everything in me to choose “face-to-face” and confront him. I said what I needed to say, and he responded, “okay, so now tell me your sins”. And I did. I left the confessional angry, but proud I said what I needed to say even if he didn’t necessarily engage in conversation with me. Looking back, I recognize I immediately sinned the second I walked out of the confessional. I was very proud of MYSELF. I was angry at HIM. My pride and my anger were very much present. Granted, I still to this day believe that what I said needed to be said, but I should have given him, very much so a human, more grace. I realized that relatively soon after, but walking out of the confessional, I totally minimized the grace that had just been afforded to me from Jesus through the priest.
My next monumental confession: January 2012. Again I found myself as a leader at TEC, this time not in my hometown. This time, I was in a place where I had been holding onto things for years that I had been too scared to confess in the past. I was so nervous about who the priest would be behind the divider (because no way was I going to look someone in the eye while I laid everything out there). But this time, it was the most beautiful experience in a confessional I had ever had. The priest was amazing, and he made me feel and believe that Jesus forgave me. This time, I walked out of the confessional feeling SO good. I was on top of the world. I felt like such a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt forgiven. I felt loved.
Of course, I’m not a perfect person and have sinned time and time again since January 2012. A monumental confession hasn’t stopped me from sinning or making mistakes. In fact, I try to go to confession every 4-6 weeks now. But every confession since January 2012, I walk out of the confessional differently. I know now that confessing my sins freely and willingly, only desiring God’s forgiveness, results in a joy that is hard to find elsewhere.
So – all of this to simply say a few things.
- If you haven’t been to confession in a while, pray about going! You won’t regret it.
- When you go to confession, pray that you can willingly accept forgiveness. Sometimes it’s hard to not look at confession as “checking a box”. While yes, it’s good to go to confession, it is one of the best gifts we’ve been given. We shouldn’t treat it simply as “checking a box”.
My two monumental confessions left me feeling two different ways as I exited the confessional – prideful the first time and overjoyed the second – but the “result” was the same: I was forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift given to us by our Father through the person of Jesus Christ. The mercy and grace of the Cross is found in the sacrament of reconciliation. It’s a free gift that we as Catholics have been given. We have to simply accept it.