When I was in the middle of RCIA, I was thrilled to discover that, thanks to the questionable validity of my baptism, I was going to be conditionally baptized and treated as a catechumen.
No confession for me!
The thought of confession terrified me. Walking into a tiny booth and pouring out my soul to a man was enough to give me an anxiety attack.
Now, I’m a pro at counseling. I can sit on the couch in an evangelical church office with some nifty cappuccino from their mod lobby and emotionally vomit all over the counselor sitting next to me. I’m pretty sure my previous Tulsa home church bought stock in Kleenex before I left. As my friends can tell you, I’m more than open book — I’m a veritable public library. Anything you want to know about me, if it’s going to help you walk through something, I probably don’t mind sharing. But suddenly, being faced with actually listing, out loud, my sins to a priest?
I. Clammed. Up.
I still went to confession when necessary (which is fairly often when suddenly a handful of things you never knew were mortal sins could now, you know, SEND YOU TO HELL, and when a handful of things you previously thought would send you to Hell are now completely acceptable), but I didn’t really get it. I did it because I had faith that this is the Church God drew (dragged) me into, and she said to do it, by God.
No really, by God.
I had a few experiences in the confessional that my Totus Tuus teammates now lovingly (as I tell myself) describe as “your Pentecostal moments”. As in, I really FELT that something holy and sacred was going on, something more than just a navel-gazing blubber fest. But even when I didn’t “feel it”, I still obeyed.
Somewhere along the way, I realized I had been living in a perpetual theological blonde moment.
If all I’m worrying about is listing sins I’m doing it wrong.
To appreciate the sacrament of confession I have to gain an understanding of what it is I’m confessing, and catch a glimpse of the almighty, incomparable love of Christ.
Confession isn’t me, me, me, me.
Confession is Him, Him, Him, Him.
Confession is understanding that I am loved, wholly and completely, by a God and Man who sacrificed himself for me. It isn’t about me and what I’ve done wrong. It’s about Christ and what He did right.
Confession is a physical, tangible conduit of the forgiveness God has never stopped pouring over us. I’m not asking the priest to forgive me, because the priest is just as human as I am. I’m throwing myself at the feet of Christ working through the priest and saying, “Here I am, Lord. I don’t want to hide from your mercy any longer. Wash me. Cleanse me.”
Part of attempting to echo Mary’s “Yes” is saying “Yes” to everything God has to offer me — and for someone unquestionably less holy than Mary, that means saying “Yes” to His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And that means saying “yes” to confession, in order to say “no” to sin.