Ps 139 reminds me of how intimately the Lord knows me and despite being familiar with all my imperfections, Rom 8:39 tells me that nothing ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God’. These two truths allow me the freedom to realise my own shortcomings, because if God knows them and still loves me, then I can afford to acknowledge them myself and allow myself to be transfigured.
In taking the time to regularly reflect on my behaviour, my inner thoughts and my underlying attitudes, I come to see the real ‘me’: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not overwhelmed with guilt when I see and accept the ‘bad and the ugly’ in myself, but am able to appreciate exactly whom I am, grateful for having taken what I deserve for those areas in my life where I fall short. Because Jesus died for me, I can lay that area of sin before him, receiving his forgiveness and walk on with the ‘clean slate’, having been transfigured. Being mindful of my own shortcomings also enables me to better cut some slack for others, when they fall short.
So why confess to a Priest and not simply ask God for forgiveness in my own prayer time? For me the answer is not simply because the Church encourages me to do so, but confessing to someone else brings that area of sin into the light, out from where it can hide or plague me. It also helps me to accept at a deeper level, that I am a sinner, it helps me not to pretend I am someone I’m not, all the time knowing that Jesus loves me despite those areas of weakness. All this, in addition to the fact that I know and believe in the grace that is present in that Sacrament, which has the power to help me to overcome that weakness when I can’t do it in my own strength.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, as some of us know it, is a hidden jewel in our Catholic Treasury that I believe is worth utilising.
Parish Pastoral Worker