Hi Ho, Hi Ho

It’s off to confession I go . . .

Not really. I’m going to a talk on confession tomorrow morning. To tell the truth — that is, I suppose, to confess — I’ve never been to confession. I joined the church as an adult, and it wasn’t necessary for baptism, since baptism wipes the slate clean. But now it’s been nearly four years. I need to go. I want to go. I can’t bring myself to go.

I’m going to the talk tomorrow because I’ve never really understood the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why can’t I be forgiven in the privacy of my home? Every night I ask forgiveness (if not also during the day), so what does this add?

Here’s what the folks at Loyola Press/Finding God say:

Here’s what the Sacrament of Penance actually offers:

restoration to honesty—no more need to rationalize

restoration to integrity—no more need to have secret or unacknowledged parts of your life

relief from unproductive guilt—transformation of remorse into living a new life. The purpose of this sacrament is not punishment but true reconciliation with God and the community.

an encounter with God—meeting God in humility (not humiliation!) and weakness

spiritual guidance—no need to struggle with your moral issues alone

inner peace—no longer having to live a life at war with yourself

strength in meeting future challenges and temptations

grace—rediscovering, as did the prodigal son, your Father’s unconditional love.

So. What can’t you get from private confession? First, reconciliation with your community. Believing in a personal God does not absolve one from accountability to one’s community — particularly when that community is the Body of Christ. We need to be reconciled with that Body if we want to say we are truly reconciled with God.

Second, a genuine confrontation and acknowledgement of your human weakness. It’s hard to simultaneously be aware of your utter dependence on God, who comes to us so often through the people around us, and live a completely interior spiritual life.

Third, a fully human experience of forgiveness. If the Good Lord had wanted us to be merely walking thought processors He could have saved Himself a lot of time on the other systems of the body. Being human, and being Catholic, is a full body experience. We recieve not only in our minds, but with our sight, our hearing, our sense of touch. In this way we can really be fully present where God is also fully present–I can really re-conciliate, or be re-unified with all of myself and as a member of the Body of Christ.

So. Why am I still afraid?

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Two points.

    1. I’m not sure I understand you when you say that you CAN’T get reconciliation with the community through Confession. Through reconciliation with Christ, you are reconciled to the community because we are all united with one another insofar as we are united to Christ. This is why Confession is a sacrament of the Church — through the sacrament the Church gives us reconciliation with her.

    2. If you haven’t already gone to Confession, here’s my suggestion. At home, sit down and WRITE DOWN all your sins by kind and number. Get a booklet to help you do this. Once you’ve written them down, then go to confession and read the list. I’ve done this for more than 10 years now, and it helps.

  2. As to your first point — you are exactly right. What I was trying to distinguish between — obviously unclearly 🙂 — was the private act of asking for forgiveness in the privacy of my home in personal prayer, and the sacrament of Confession. In the former, we can act as though our sin is *only* private, as if our sin has no impact on the Body of Christ.

    This is something I am really coming to understand, hurrah. I *need* the sacrament from the Church because I *need* to be reconciled with the community.

    I really must get my additional notes up!

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