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Confession: Reconciliation Is Not Beauty In My Life | Catholic Life

Confession: Reconciliation Is Not Beauty In My Life

This is a serious and not at all sarcastic post. It is also an intensely personal post. I believe that whatever is not of faith is sin, and I also believe in the primacy of a well-formed conscience. That means that something could be sin for me, and not for you. References to sin in all posts in this series are only references what is sin in my own life, not assertions that the same actions (or failures to act) are sins in anyone else’s life.

When Michelle asked for responses on why we go to confession I took it as a challenge to answer as honestly as possible. The first answer that came to mind was that I go because I’m Catholic. As a currently practicing Catholic, confession is non-optional.

But that could not be the actual truth since one can be a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church and only go to confession once a year. Besides, given my place in the world and in history, it would be pretty easy to simply not be a practicing Catholic.

So I must go for some other reason. I reflected on my life this past year, and in considering my actions the best answer I could come up with was that I went to confession because it forces me to really stop, examine my conscience, and clean up my spiritual life. I fail to do this properly (the Church suggests daily) and so I choose confession as a way of getting things back on track. As Michelle said, it is like the difference between a self-test and the midterm in the lives of her students.

The truth is that reconciliation, like Sunday Mass, is one of the very few areas of my life where I act out of obedience. I go to confession because at some point not going becomes a significant rejection of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I believe that I should experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly in most seasons, but last year I only went four times. Once I felt that pure bliss, but otherwise it was the usual.

I hate participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation because of the tremendous gap between what I think that it should be, and what it actually turns out to be. My stress level still rises thinking about a certain priest who was exceptionally lacking in gifting as a confessor. I am fine with priests who are busy and run things quickly, and I am fine with priests who are wise, but oh how I hate to deal with those who sit in the seat of Christ and throw me into spiritual turmoil because of their own ignorance. One of the most helpful things in this area was stumbling across Teresa’s thoughts. Saintly wisdom explaining reality was a great gift in allowing me to practice my faith without random priests ripping it apart. They could still tug at my faith, but I could ignore them when I knew they were simply sharing personal opinions which lacked careful formation.

Because I know from experience that it does not work to expect parish priests to be spiritual directors, I do my best to make my confession as short and carefully packaged as possible. Occasionally I will encounter someone like the young Augustinian (did you know that they count officially as “young” if they are 50 and under, and they are raising the age?!) who asked me what my state in life was and completely threw me because I didn’t know if he was asking if I was married or working or what. But mostly confession is a struggle to go through the motions of a potentially wounding, and usually meaningless, spiritual exercise.

While I sincerely regret my unhealthy relationship with confession, it does have the one advantage of making me exceptionally reluctant to knowingly choose sin. When I go through a phase of not wanting to go to Sunday Mass I know that if I fail to do so I will not be able to receive communion the next day without first going to confession. My twin dislikes for confession and Mass without communion are always enough to get me out the door.

Why do you go to confession? Do you find it easy to encounter Christ there?

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6 Responses to “Confession: Reconciliation Is Not Beauty In My Life”

  1. Michelle 30. Mar, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Like you, I go to confession to clean up my life. Sure, there are times, I’ve committed what I think is really close to a mortal sin if not an outright mortal sin (sometimes I have to ask in the confessional) and I go for that reason because I have separated myself from God in a way that only confession can clear up. But most of the time, I try to go monthly…every so often I get into a bi-weekly pattern…but that doesn’t last too long…so monthly, it’s a way to get me back on track.

    I don’t think I go out of obedience anymore…at least not solely. Because I know that I don’t have to go as often as I do…so it can’t just be that I”m trying to be obedient…can it?

  2. catholicmutt 30. Mar, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I like to try to do every month, but I’ve been horrible about that since I’ve moved. One of the reasons that that I have become absolutely spoiled by some amazing confessors, and now to go back to some that are just average (and to be fair, the good ones knew me at least a little, and so far, these haven’t known me at all) is not easy. But I go because I feel the clutter of all the sins, whether bigger or smaller, start to junk up my life. Sometimes I feel something, sometimes I feel nothing at all, but it still seems worth it.

  3. Kathleen 31. Mar, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    For the last two years I’ve set a goal of going every month, but does it happen? Uh-uh. However, 4-6 is a darned sight better than the 2x a year that has been my norm.

    You had me right here: “tremendous gap between what I think that it should be, and what it actually turns out to be.” I haven’t had the experience you have, but I always long for a deeper experience in the sacrament than what actually happens. All too often, it just feels perfunctory–on both sides. Even though on mine for sure, it isn’t meant to be, and surely not on the priest’s, either!

  4. felicemifa 31. Mar, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I think that part of faith is trusting that I encounter Christ in the sacraments even if I don’t “feel” anything. We all know that Reconciliation can be a crapshoot because you never know who your going to get. But does not enjoying the experience means it is not graced? I don’t know.

    I suppose I go with moderate regularity because of that faith, and because I feel I should put my money where my mouth is in regard to the sacraments. I can’t talk about how great they are and then completely neglect one of them, can I?

  5. Trena 01. Apr, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I used to dread confession because I don’t believe the priest at my church are good at it (once I was so in to my confession that I was crying and the priest just gave me a dirty look, like come on already) but now I like confession because once a month on Fridays(today in fact) there is a Mass during the afternoon for all the homeschooling families. Three ypung priest do confessions before the Mass and they are great!

  6. Mary 06. Apr, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    These days i find confession to be quite relaxed, but definitely uplifting. Amongst other things, Jesus is my friend, so I think that i now understand that it doesn’t have to be some deeply spiritual moving experience but a quiet chat between friends.

    I have one confession that sticks out in my mind as having a feeling of encountering Christ and true redemption. I had these sins that I was too scared to confess, and then forgot about it, and then things happened that reminded me of them years later, so I finally confessed it, and felt free of the baggage of my past, and healed from all those emotional scars. It was incredible, and made me wonder why it took me so long to ever confess those particular sins, especially since I had been going to confession regularly.

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