My oldest daughter is preparing for her first reconciliation, commonly called confession, and my own struggles with the sacrament have converged with my responsibility for her catechesis, as well as the beginning of Lent.
In theory I absolutely embrace this sacrament as one of the most beautiful aspects of the Catholic Church. To be absolved of my sins by a priest who acts in persona Christi is truly awesome.
I can’t for one moment understand critics who claim this sacrament is a manmade construction. It’s simply too tortuous for man to devise on his own. As Pius XI stated, “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.”
Over time moral absolutes have been whittled away, and it’s just not popular to reflect on sinful actions. It’s far easier to place blame elsewhere, develop a mental health category, argue for the gray areas or dissent in the name of conscience.
Been there, done that. Thanks be to God that he welcomes back the prodigals!
That said, this sacrament is humbling — and often humiliating. After avoiding confession for months, I was fearful to return. After all, I’ve been Catholic only a few years and have gone to confession maybe a dozen times, each time thinking that I wasn’t “doing it right,” paralyzed by the mechanics of when to do the sign of the cross, or the exact wording I needed to say, or when to say my act of contrition.
This time around, I resolved that “doing it right” meant searching my soul, recalling those ugly venial sins and feeling contrite. I needed a new perspective, and I needed to swallow my pride and that need to be right.
As extra incentive, my daughter asked rhetorically if the pope goes to confession weekly, shouldn’t the rest of us? She has already worked out a plan for my husband and me to have a “pattern” (one of her favorite kindergarten concepts lately) of switching off going weekly so we’d each go twice a month while she herself will go weekly because otherwise “it’s just too hard to keep track of all of those little sins.”
How right she is — having smaller gaps between confessions will certainly help me focus on those “patterns” of weakness I see in myself.
Others can keep their extreme makeovers, day spa retreats, therapy sessions and talk-show confessions. This Lent, I’m committed to a true transfiguration through my reconciliation with God and the mystical Body of Christ through this sacrament — no matter how hard, no matter how humbling.