And there I was again. Waiting outside the confessional, in line once again for my monthly reconciliation. Many things go through my head. I join the queue, rejoicing mentally when the queue is short and I don’t have to wait. Then, I look at the name of the priest outside the confessional. Sometimes, I would groan inwardly.
“Oh my gosh, this priest is NOT a good confessor.”
“Oh no, Fr _____ knows me too well!! Argh…it’ll be SOOOOO awkward”
“I hope they don’t recognise my voice”
And occasionally, “YES! Just who I was praying for!”
Sometimes, there are TWO confessors. In those moments, I think I pray too hard to get the priest I want. As these initial thoughts die down, I settle my mind and heart for confession. Sometimes, it’s easy. Most of the time, it’s not. I say a short prayer to Jesus to help me realise my faults and weaknesses, that I may be able to be open to His Mercy in this reconciliation and to make a good confession. I list down all my sins (or at least those I can remember or that I’m aware of) and as I sit in silence, I simply stare at the altar (which, by the way, can be directly seen while waiting for confession #architecturalwins). And the constant question that always seems to surface as I wait is this: Why bother? These sins I list, some of them are not one-off sins. Some are habitual. Many seem to have a permanent spot in my to-confess list. Occasionally, I confess something “new”. But hardly ever (there’s something to thank God for). And with that, the usual temptations arise.
“Just leave. You’re going to sin again anyways.”
“Well…the queue IS rather LONG…”
“Do you REALLY want to confess to Fr _______?”
It is at these moments, that looking up at Jesus, hanging above the altar, I realise that IT DOESN’T MATTER. No, I’m not saying that confession doesn’t matter. Nothing of that sort lest I be deemed a heretic. What I’m saying is this. It doesn’t matter that, as soon as I leave the confession, I’m going to sin again, even before the sun sets on that day. Peter denied Jesus 3 times before the next day began, even after proclaiming loudly, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never betray you!” (Matthew 26:35) just hours ago. It doesn’t matter that I don’t come out a saint after confession. Many saints take years (and many wake-up calls from God) before they were able to fall so deeply in love with God that they seemed to be sinless. And even then, they still sinned. It doesn’t matter that the priest PROBABLY knows who I am (Seal of Confessional for the win!) What matters is that I go in and do my part in this relationship. I fix the wrongs that I have done to injure the relationship I have with the God of Love and Mercy, knowing full well that I will probably damage it again. I go in, seeking not a way to cleanse myself of guilt and of shame (though those are amazing side effects of confession). I go in, because I realise that I have done wrong not just to God, but to the people of God. There is a desire to seek, once again, the mercy and the love of God found within the confessional, with the priest as the proxy for Christ. There is a desire to grow ever closer to God and His Church, no matter how small my steps may be. There is a desire to, at least in that very moment, to let go of my old ways and to follow the ways of God. And I think, that matters. It matters that we try. It matters that even though we know we will fall again, we keep trying. That, I feel, is all we’re ever called to do. Because perfection can only be reached if we rely on God’s Grace. After all, the very Act of Contrition that we say during reconciliation says, “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more”. And this can only occur, if we enter the confessional and leave, wanting to always draw closer to God.
So, let us be bold. Let us not be afraid of bearing the darkness of our hearts to the Light of God. Let us not be afraid of going to confess our sins earnestly and with a heart seeking God. Let us go to Him, every time we fall and we stumble. As Pope Francis says, “The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we, who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”.
© 2018 Christ Centered Conversations/Gregory Adrian Gunawan