This last week I participated in a clergy retreat for my diocese. As part of optional offerings, the chaplain for the retreat offered the sacrament of confession & absolution to any who desired it. I, being a bad catholic, had never made a confession. These were/are my thoughts immediately afterwards.
God removes the sin of the one who makes humble confession, and thereby the devil loses the sovereignty he had gained over the human heart.
I expected to break down in tears, or be moved, as I am one who always has an emotional experience in things of grace, but I didn’t. There was no charismatic experience for me. I felt completely normal, and yet, acknowledged that a profound act had occurred in my life. Honestly, acknowledging my sins by writing them down as far back as I could go was a very cathartic experience in and of itself. It wasn’t bravery that led me to go to confession, to confess the most dirty and damned parts of my life, and neither was it guilt, but it was a desire to air to God Almighty and another person my faults, my own grievous faults. These were things that had held me down for years, things I had never told another living soul, for fear that my cover would be blown and the deep and darkest parts of my heart exposed to those I love the most.
I entered the chapel, kneeled in front of the makeshift altar where Our Lord resided in the Blessed Sacrament, and faced my Maker, so to say.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned”
so true. so very true.
” I confess to God Almighty; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and to you, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault.”
As I said these words I saw Jesus there comforting me, and I knew that what I was about to say would grieve Him, and I hated it, but I knew that He is quick to forgive.
As I stated this was my first confession, and then went into my litany of iniquity. I assume that most people believe that their confession is always worse than others, but I know, that if it wasn’t for grace that the gracious priest would’ve ran from the room screaming. But as I said them, a weight began to lift, each and ever thing listed, was put out there, for God to hear even though he already knew.
“For these and all my other sins, which cannot now remember, I am very sorry, I promise to do better, I beg God to forgive me, and you Father, to give me penance, advice, and absolution”
And then I heard words, and ideas, and counsel. I was comforted as if Jesus Himself was comforting in that moment. And then I heard those wonderful words–
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
He then told me to take my list, to go to the fireplace, and to burn it. As God had burned away my sins with His love and grace, so I burned my list of failure, of not-good-enough, of rebellion, and promised to make a better start, knowing that I will fail again, and that Abba will be there to pick me up again, dust off my knee, and hope that I will learn something from it.