How about I kick things off with a confession of my own? I have not, despite 33 years of instruction, including a handful of Catholic schooling, managed to memorize the Act of Contrition.
(I think I might start reading it daily for the remainder of Lent, just to remedy the situation once and for all.)
Confession, or Reconciliation, is my very favorite of the 7 Sacraments. But it was not always so.
I still vividly remember being a hot, shaky mess waiting in line on Saturday afternoons as a young teenager, sure that I was about to finally die of stage fright/anticipatory dread/having father recognize my voice from behind the screen.
Then I’d get in there, plow though that list of admittedly boring sins, and voila, the sweet, sanctifying release of absolution would be mine.
For anyone who’s never tried it, walking out of the Confessional is a little like finishing a race or walking out of finals after a solid showing. There’s so much relief mingled with a lightness and a freedom that is hard to describe. A runner’s high is a close approximation, but it’s a runner’s high of the soul.
I didn’t think I could say all that, I didn’t think I’d be able to admit to it, but I did, and now I’m free.
It’s pretty wonderful.
I’ve heard the argument made that it’s weird to confess to a priest, that one needs only to confess one’s sins to God directly without need for any kind of intermediary, and I guess because I’m a cradle Catholic, I’ve always kind of scratched my head over that one. After all, I didn’t baptize myself, and I don’t DIY the Eucharist on Sunday mornings at home. I received the Sacrament of Confirmation from the hands of my local bishop, and a priest friend witnessed our marriage vows on our wedding day.
God loves to use other people to minister to us. That’s why He brings us into familial relationships to begin with: we need each other.
But I digress.
I used to see Confession as a kind of necessary evil (ironic, no?) of being Catholic, something I resigned myself to participate in a couple times a year, or more frequently as my poor behavior and lifestyle choices warranted. And sure, the payout was always light-footed and fancy free on the way out of the box, but the dreadful ramp up was agonizing.
I’ve since come to truly love and even anticipate with joy this means by which God and I become intimately acquainted again. And the secret is this: the more I go, the more I want to go.