Saturday, May 27, 2006

I Must Confess...

...that I don't much like going to confession.

It is difficult to find the time to go regularly since it involves finding a babysitter for 5 children. This, by the way, is also true of doctors appointments and hair appointments, so it is not exclusively reserved for reconciliation! However, I suspect that if I enjoyed it more it would be easier to schedule.

So, why don't I enjoy it? I witness the joy and peace it gives many of those close to me and wonder, "Am I doing it wrong?"

I don't generally have a problem owning up to my faults and mistakes (OK, sins). And there are plenty of them, too, so it's not like I lack things to discuss. I do get weary of repeating the same three or four things over and over again every time I go, but I know that is humbling and part of the plan, so even that isn't a big deterrent.

I do feel marginally better when I leave confession, but not more than I do when I say an Act of Contrition on my own at the end of the day. I guess my problem is that I feel I am speaking to a man, not to God through a man. Why am I missing this?

As with all things Catholic, I believe that if I persevere I will "get" it. I advise my good friend, who jokingly refers to the "six sacraments" so much does she avoid confession, that she should continue to go. After all, the church couldn't be right about everything else but wrong about this. And I believe this to be true. But so far I cannot speak with personal conviction on the matter.

So, why write about this today? I happened to go to confession for the first time in awhile a few days ago and had an interesting experience.

First of all, my son, who had his first reconciliation in April, jumped at the chance to go when he heard I was going. He, like my husband, "gets" it. He finds comfort in this sacrament and I am so glad for him. He has already been more times in two months than I have been so far this year. This is humbling for me.

Second, because we have a large parish and several priests, I had never been to confession with this particular priest. He is an wonderful priest. I love his homilies. So, I was delighted to see him in the confessional and hoped he would have some words of wisdom for me. He did not.

I find the experience of confession to be very different depending on who hears it. I like to get a little encouragement and feedback, but this is not always the case. There is one priest in our former diocese that my husband referred to as "the drive by confessor" because of his rapidity. There is another priest that regularly has a line of an hour or more because of his gentle support and uplifting advice. But, if you are truly in tune with the purpose of confession, which is to receive God's sacramental grace, it shouldn't matter who hears it, right? But somehow, to me, it does.

Anyway, after a relatively disappointing confession experience a few days ago, I have noticed something interesting. Something that has been bothering me for months has subsided. My worry didn't go away right then, in the confessional, but the next morning when I woke up I was at peace. And three days later I still am. I have to wonder, are these two things related? Probably.



Annie Bizzi said...

As we strive to continue His work through our lives and in our families, I feel it is so important and even vital that we grow toward our humanity. To get to this point, as you have found, sometimes takes awhile and can be challenging (even for the cradle Catholics). I want to share with you the words of our Lord which I read today: "As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. After saying this he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained." It only took a few hours for the Holy Spirit to come upon you--what a gift! Now if this isn't encouraging I don't know what is!

Philothea Rose said...

I personally am a confession fan. I LOVE it. I would go every week if my life allowed, but I am in the same boat as you with my 5.

Before I go to Confession I always pray for Jesus to speak to me the words He wants me to hear through the priest. And the times when the priest has said nothing for me means that Jesus has nothing to say except "keep trying". Sometimes that is all I need to hear.

glorybe said...

I would say that your three days peace means "you got it" (especially since you didn't like the experience with the priest).

Since Jesus really is the one hearing your confession, you now have peace.

But, it is really hard oftentimes to over look the man in between.

Ironically, one of my worst confession experiences was with a priest I considered a friend (I was behind the screen, and he didn't recognize me). And, one of my best experiences was with a priest I really didn't like. I think with the first, I was holding back, and somehow, he knew it. And with the second, I was hurting badly and feeling so much remorse, that the priest knew it and took pity on me. He gave me the words I needed to hear at that time.

nutmeg said...

Whenever I go to confession, I am looking for a "kick in the pants".... I know it sounds terrible, but it's true. (good idea, Philothea....)

I want a priest to really convict me, to lay it all out, and then encourage me in what I know I should be doing, but am too busy/lazy to do...

I think I "get" confession, don't go as often as I should, but I really do feel peace and joy and contentment when things are "set right".... the humility thing is good for me too.


Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thanks for all your supportive comments!

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