lunes, 20 de marzo de 2017

Mid-Lent Confession

Now that we´re smack in the middle of Lent, the Catholic Women Bloggers Network themed their monthly blog hop around "My Real Feelings About Confession".  Appropriate for the season.

Does anybody really like confession?  In theory, I do honestly like it.  But in reality, it seems I only drag myself into a confessional once every few years.  And the main reason for that is that whole "all Catholics in good standing should go to confession at least once a year."  Ugh.  As I´ve mentioned before, if anyone wants to drive me crazy, keep telling me how I "have to" do something.

But, like I said, I like the sacrament, at least in theory.  For starters, it is a sacrament, which means we draw close to God and He draws close to us--what´s not to love about that?  Furthermore, I completely believe it can be a much more enjoyable experience than the chore we´ve turned it into.

When I was barely beginning to explore Catholicism, I had my first, albeit very informal, experience with confession.  I was fresh out of college, spending a year volunteering full-time in New Mexico with the Border Servant Corps.  As part of the program, we set aside one evening a week to intentionally spend with our fellow volunteers.  At one point in the year, we got into a regular habit of going around the group and honestly letting the group know how we were doing--emotionally, physically, spiritually, professionally, etc.

Looking back as I´m writing this, that sounds terribly tedious.  Eight people talking in-depth about four different aspects of what makes them tick every week?  We were a tight group, and I look back on those times as some of the most edifying of my life.

We were close enough that we could be absolutely honest with each other.  Frequently, it was an excellent opportunity to open up with struggles we were having as to ask our friends to pray for us.  Together, we celebrated mundane accomplishments like celebrating that we could finally run for 20 minutes at a stretch.  On the other extreme, it gave us an opportunity to reflect or admit openly if we were struggling with our faith or depression.  As we got in a habit of "checking in" every week, it became routine to follow up on each other, asking questions or encouraging each other through the week, as we really knew what was truly going on in each others´ lives.
Maybe it would help to take down the wall.

As I was beginning to explore Catholicism at the time, this experience gave me ample food for thought to consider the sacrament of reconciliation.  Given my religious background, I had a knee-slap reaction to confession--"well, of course I don´t have to confess my sins to a priest--I can go straight to God!"

While that certainly may be true, this weekly examination with my volunteer group opened my eyes to how beneficial it is to admit some things out loud, particularly to someone with an understanding ear.  And--let´s face it--it´s great to hear that we´re forgiven in the end.

Ideally, I believe this is how confession should be--like this experience my group had, of closeness and frequent contact, so we know what´s going on with others on a weekly (or daily) basis, so we know each others´ struggles and successes, celebrating and praying together.  Unfortunately, if a priest has hundreds of people in his parish, it is rather difficult for him to get to know all parishioners on that kind of level.

However, I´m pretty confident that most Catholics are much like me, and it wouldn´t take much effort to get to know our priests a bit better.  If we were better able to count our priests as our friends, time in the confessional would be less or a chore and more of an opportunity to simply sit back and be completely honest with a trusted friend.

And that would make confession the liberating experience that it´s meant to be.
Come on in!

Anyone itching for more reflections on confession?

Check out the other posts from the Catholic Women Bloggers Network--it´s an excellent, varied, and thought-provoking assortment, I promise!

Or, read chapter 28 in Matthew Kelly´s Resisting Happiness.  Even before this blog hop, that chapter recently got me off my butt and into a confessional--it´s that convicting!  Even better, the whole book is pretty good.

(If you´re like me, and read Matthew Kelly´s Rediscovering Catholicism and didn´t like it, give Resisting Happiness a try--it´s the book that I was hoping Rediscovering Catholicism would be!  I was pleasantly shocked that this was a genuinely good book.)

8 comentarios :

Beautiful Camouflaged Mess dijo...

Great insight! My family has made a concerted effort to get to know our chaplains quite well, for our past three duty stations. But, I think it's because I feel slightly bad for the single priests having to move when they do, dealing with the headaches of moving, and not having a family to go home to at the end of a long day. Our military Catholic chaplains usually go home to an empty house - so, just like any single soldier, I have a particular affinity for getting to know them.

Furthermore, I also like to vet them with my kids - my kids are small and therefore not silent in Mass. So, since I was once asked to leave Mass by a priest during his Homily, I now get to know the chaplains really well - to make sure I'm not mortified during Mass again!

I have found sometimes it is nice to go to a priest you know for Confession - so, I agree that knowing our chaplains are beneficial for that purpose! And then, other times, I don't want that intimacy, so I seek out a civilian church. But, the majority of the time, yes, I agree that the familiarity of our chaplains keeps me engaged in attending that Sacrament.

Great post!

vkochis dijo...

I had no idea there were so many converts in the Hop! I love reading your stories - it brings me such joy <3

Sarah dijo...

It can be hard going to Confession, I understand. Sometimes I drag my feet, but I am always so grateful afterward! Most recently, I attended Confession with a priest I do not know, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had of the Sacrament. He truly was Jesus to me and helped me with my struggles. I have had other experiences that were short, to the point, and not personal at all. No matter what, I have to remember that it is Jesus who I'm meeting when I enter the confessional, and He always graces me with His mercy and love.

Anónimo dijo...

What a great post.
I appreciate what converts go through as I am one. <3
Thank you for your insight!

Stephanie Engelman dijo...

I second Sarah's comments. When we were new to our current parish, I attended Confession with our associate pastor for the first time. I made a good confession, but the thing that was weighing most heavily on my soul was not sinful, and so I didn't confess it. When the priest gave his counsel to me, it did not address any of the sins I had confessed, but spoke directly to that situation which was such a burden to me at the time. I walked out of that confessional on the verge of tears and thought, "He just saw inside my soul." In fact, it wasn't Fr. Peter, but Fr. Peter in the person of Christ. None of us will ever have a tete a tete with a friend to equal a tete a tete with Christ. The Church gives us a great blessing in providing this Sacrament!

Jill dijo...

Wow, ladies! There is SO MUCH food for thought in this blog hop! And thanks for the reminders that the priest in the confessional is there "in the person of Christ". I think I knew that once upon a time, but am quite sure that I´ve lost sight of that a bit.

There are so many things to reflect on, after reading posts and comments! One thing is for sure--I can tell that a lot of my foot dragging about this sacrament is partly due to not completely understanding it, or not taking full advantage of it.

I´m so glad I was able to join you all for this one!

Kalley C dijo...

What I beautiful way to think about confession! You are also very right. It becomes more personal when you get to know the priest. When I go to confession, I have my favorite priest to go to, and its truly like checking in with a trusted friend. Thanks for that insight.

Jill dijo...

Thanks, Kalley!