When I was studying for my Confirmation, I remember Sister Alta Gracia telling me to prepare for Confession. I cringed. Participating in the Sacrament of Confession, you tell the priest your sins. If I had done it when I was preparing for Holy Communion, I was so young I didn’t recall it. What I would confess to a priest at age 8 is very different than what I would confess at age 28. I had 20 years to rack up a long list. Can you blame me for cringing?
During the lent season, the church schedules more time set aside for confessions. I had set up a time with my priest and I sat patiently waiting. I wrote down every possible thing I could remember over that twenty year span that broke one of the ten commandments. I had three pages worth of things. I clutched that paper with dear life. I remember calling Daniel just before and told him how nervous I was. He assured me everything would be fine.
|photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via photopin cc|
The closer my turn got the more nervous I became. Who wants to confess the things that go against God? Then another visiting priest was taking on confessions in the Church Rectory. I kind of liked the idea of being confessed by someone who didn’t know me well. When I went into the sitting room, I realized that it was going to be a face to face confession. All I could think was where is the booth so the priest doesn’t see me and I don’t see him? The priest was patient, I followed the guide and when it was time to confess, I read off my list. Tears burned my eyes as I recalled some of the things on the list and then the next thing I knew I was sobbing hysterically. The priest grabbed a box of tissue and he remained patient. I finished my list and waited. He told me the parable of the Prodigal Son.
10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother
11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
The priest explained the importance of going to confession frequently. The longer the period of time we go between confessions, the more likely we are to be tempted. Life is full of temptations, whether we are aware of it or not. During this Sacrament of Confession the Priest is a representative for God. When we confess to a Priest, we are confessing to God. When a Priest absolves our sins, it is God who is absolving our sins. At the end of my first confession, I had no idea how much guilt I had been carrying around. I felt my burdens lighten. I forgave myself. I felt a weight lifted.
When we carry around the weight of the things we regret in life, it slowly changes us. We’re able to move forward because we have no choice but eventually those changes start to show on the outside. I now go more frequently, I find it keeps me on my path. I am human and I am far from perfect. I fall, dust myself off and get back up. It’s comforting to know that Confession is available to help me reflect on my life, to aim to do better and to be in God’s good graces.
Here is today’s reading:
If something of your past is weighing on you, forgive yourself. God loves you, I love you and I ask you to pass it on!
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