Why confession is good for the soul

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January 18, 2011 by Nicole

I am not sure what’s more difficult: making yourself go to confession for the first time in over a decade, or telling the priest–especially one who doesn’t know you–that it’s been over ten years since your last confession.  Recently I have been thinking about the fact that if I really intend to be more serious about recommitting to my faith, then I have to go to confession.  If there’s one thing I have learned in this process, it’s that for me to be a better Catholic, I need to partake of two sacrements on a more regular basis.  One is receiving the Eucharist and the other is the sacrement of Reconciliation.

I have to say that getting ready for confession is an odd thing–I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, since this is one of the first times I think I have actually been in the right frame of heart and mind to reconcile with God; I honestly don’t know if I remember going to confession because I was actively working at my faith, or a time when I intentionally made time in my day to drive to the chruch to go to Reconciliation. 

I learned something very interesting from this.  If it’s true that you have a good angel on one shoulder and a bad one on the other (That is not the only Faustian reference in this post, by the way.), they certainly had a very animated discussion today.  The good angel was quite happy that I made the decision to go to confession.  The bad angel (now please understand that I am not hearing voices–this is more for dramatic effect.)  had a lot to say.  First, there was the momentary consideration of procrastinating–I could always go later in the week since today is a federal hoilday (God Bless Dr. King) and the parish offices are closed, so what a waste of time to drive all the way into town if no one was there.  Then, as I am getting ready to go, I found that I started getting nervous.  Bad angel starts up again, but this time, tries appealing to my problems with anxiety and starts carrying on about something to the effect that I don’t really need to go, that the priest is going to look at me funny or give me a lecture because it’s been so long.  At some point, I fairly certain that the bad angel tried to pull a Dr. Faustus (“The wages of sin is death…you’ve got too many problems to be forgiven. to you  You still can’t forgive Horace [not his real name, by the way] for what he did to you and how badly he hurt you over 15 years ago. “) to which I responded that considering the number of people who confess to a number of serious sins, I am probably not going to shock the priest. 

But looking back on the minutes leading up to going to confession, I have to say that the best try was me trying to think about what I most needed to confess, and bad angel starts coming up with a list of things that  could/should be overlooked or omitted from my confession because they were too embarrassing or shameful to say.  Good angel kindly reminded me that a confession is not genuine unless you genuinely repent for the hardest things to say.

All in all, without going into detail, I think I did all right.  I didn’t shock the priest or get zapped by lightening in the confessional.  And, what’s even more interesting, is that I can tell something changed today.  I don’t know if it’s possible to actually sense that God loves you or is proud of you for being courageous.  I also don’t know if what I am feeling is in my mind, or if it’s the kind of thing that really is knowing that God is actually around me.

What I can say with certainty is that something “bad” is gone–literally–as though what has been weighing me down has been taken away.  What surprised me is that this 15 year old hardened bitterness toward  “Horace’s” role in my past is significantly eased.  It’s hard to explain, like this thing that’s been festering has been extracted and I am at peace.  While I managed to finally accept that I won’t get an apology for what he did, not until today have I been able to say that I don’t feel “owed” anything in order to be okay. It’s been taken care of, and honestly, I am really happy.

Dear God: How did you do that?? Wow.  Thanks.  Amen.

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