Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
I know I was all set to talk about my favorite Deacon, but as part of my 3 in 30 goals for January, getting my butt back to Confession was top on the list. Thanks to a race that was cancelled, and some rearranging of my schedule, I was able to get back into the groove today.
For me, Confession (or Reconciliation, as you may hear it called) is an amazing gift, that I don’t utilize nearly enough. My Catholic friends know the drill, and if you’re like me, probably don’t go often enough! Let me do a little explanation for my non-Catholic readers.
In Confession, we confess our sins (both mortal and venial) to a priest. In this instance, look at him as a representative of Christ.
Before entering, we do an Examination of Conscience. Father John Corapi has a marvelous Examination of Conscience, based on our Ten Commandments. (personally, I’ve even made a list before, prior to going in) There’s usually a light above the door of the confessional, to let you know that someone is inside. Wait for the spot to open up, and head on in.
You go in, kneel, and make the Sign of the Cross, saying, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (fill in the blank) since my last Confession.” You then go on to confess all of your sins. After you are finished, the priest may talk to you about your sins, and will ask you to say an Act of Contrition. You will also be given some sort of penance to perform – anything ranging from prayers to performing deeds for others. The priest will give you absolution, and you’re free to go.
Going to Confession requires a great deal of humility — trust me, I’ve had to tell some pretty horrific things in there. It eases my mind to know that my priest has probably heard worse, and it absolutely will not leave the Confessional. Our priests are bound by our Church to complete confidentiality — they will never share our sins with anyone else.
What about you? Your thoughts on Confession? Have you been lately? Check your calendar and get in this week!
One of the things I’ve often wondered about our church (we go to an Episcopal church–or what some of my friends call “Catholic Lite”) is the way “confession” is handled. In essence, everyone recites a basic “we messed up this week so please forgive us,” and the rector gives absolution to the congregation. I guess it’s an expeditious way of handling it…but it has always felt, well, a little to non-personal, almost flippant, in my book.
So, while everyone else is reciting from the Book of Common Prayer, I just have a personal prayer with God. The ritual and comfort of confession is one area I wish the Episcopalians embraced a bit more.