Its been a while since I have blogged a reason I love being Catholic, as it has been a while since I went to confession..... BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED.......sounds funny doesn't it to ask for a blessing when saying you have turned against God.
One criticism we Catholics faces is "confession". I think its a misunderstood sacrament that gets a bad rap......like its OK to sin knowing you can confess and then go out and do it again...that is NOT really how it works. You can't confess something you aren't sorry about and that you plan on doing again....I mean what is there to forgive in that? And I have heard MANY times "I don't need someone to tell me God forgives me, I ask directly for forgiveness". Well we all have opinions, I love the GRACE I receive when I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation....also known as Penance or Reconciliation.
The act itself involves the examination of conscience, so periodically - however often you go to confession,-you sit and think of what you have done to keep you from God. Without the sacrament, I honestly don't think I would do this. Sure I might commit a sin and ask God for forgiveness for that sin....but I don't think I would really reflect and try to think of the many things that turn me away from God. When you start to think, its scary how long the list easily comes. Especially the little things....which to me can be the scariest as unreconciled can get bigger and bigger. The examination of conscience really keeps things in check.
To physically sit in the presence of the priest who is God's agent and disciple and to say out loud the sins committed is hard.....think of how hard it will be to face God himself at the end of life. I think saying these things aloud really does help in the "boy I have screwed up" department as we are admitting our downfalls AND our desires to become closer to God. In the sacrament, you say what you have done to offend our heavenly Father, you ask forgiveness and pray with the priest. The priest is has the task of giving you your penance to try to compensate for the offense. He is not the one who forgives, its God who forgives, he just serves as God's agent.
I don't go to confession often enough - I went today for the first time in 3 or 4 months. Technically you only have to go once a year, but if you are in a state of sin, you should not receive holy communion at Mass. I think for the new year I am going to try and make it monthly. About a month ago, I thought of a few sins I had committed and how I should not be receiving communion....that's a whole other post..... So I decided to stop going to communion at mass until I had been to confession. I would go up for a blessing, but not to consume the Holy Eucharist. I don't know why I have such a hard time making it the confessional.....but I finally went today after mass.
The cool thing is....I will receive communion, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, at the Christmas Vigil Mass next. Talk about symbolic, during the season of awaiting the coming of our Lord. I will receive him for the first time in a while at the very mass we celebrate his arrival. I have been restraining myself, because I realized how precious the holy Eucharist is and I also realized for so many years, with my habit of not going to confession, how I was not respecting Holy Eucharist by consuming in a state of sin. For me, denying myself communion really put into perspective how sin separates us from Christ. Even though I could get a blessing at mass, which I most gladly accepted, it made me think of how sin affected my relationship with God and his son.
I have never felt God's grace stronger in my life than after confession....especially the one where I had been away from the church for so many years. The best thing about reconciliation is that it totally wipes our sins away.....not just offers forgiveness, but through the holy spirit we are truly cleansed and the ugliness of our sin is gone.
OK, so if you have made it here......may the Peace of our Lord be with you, as we celebrate the coming of our Savior this week......think of how awesome it is 2000 years later, we can be cleansed the sacrament and made in a state worthy to receive his most precious body. Through reconciliation, its all wiped away and we are made a new.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.