Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Joys of a Good Confession

I think people hold a lot of guilt inside them, even after they have privately confessed to Jesus on their knees. Coming from a Protestant background, it is wonderful to simply throw yourself on your knees within seconds of having watched something you shouldn't have, or said something disrespectful or vulgar, or whatever temptation you fell to and ask for forgiveness. 

However, from my observations, even after that there is something that begins to build up inside--as if we painted over  the top of a rusty old metal shed, instead of sanding it down first. Like plaque in your arteries, sin layers in your subconscious leaving your heart restless, even if, through faith, you know God has forgiven you. 

Sin weights on us. And I hate to have to write this down, but I think it true enough to just plunge in and admit--I think we need to feel the scrape of the sandpaper against us as we get rid of the rust. We need to experience the wound of sin even if just a moment of it.

I think men in particular. 

Christians need to grieve our sins. There is something alien to the baptized soul who has been born into a new life that falls into the mire and there is no rite nor ritual in which we can grieve this unnatural defeat.

Even for Catholic priests, I have noticed that they downplay sins in their attempt to be merciful. Like a mother, they want to coddle and coo with us and make us not feel guilty anymore. And indeed we shouldn't when we leave, but there is a sense of something is missing when you gain the courage to enter the confessional booth and you are told to brush it off. In a way, it is like a bit of a letdown, for you are going in there to violently expunge this horror that has grasped you and you feel a huge spiritual fight about to erupt and then all of sudden, the battle is over.

Our psyche hasn't caught up with the announcement and it felt more like a white flag than a real win.

Something inside us cries out for sin to be made a big deal of.... even if we are terrified of anyone knowing and we want to have the battle somewhere in a deep closet where no one knows.

We need to feel the blow, we need to feel as if we have fought back, and often (as a female anyway) I need to cry about it--grieve the sin.

In my personal opinion, priest need to continue the love (for they are all loving beyond belief!) but do not trivialize the sin. 

For instance, when I became a Catholic, God unveiled for me how much He hated birth control. I was in shock. Having been a Protestant I had always used it thinking I was being responsible. The weight of the children I should have had, those little lives I never bore-- my heart cried out for,  those babies were never to be because of my husband's and my sin. I needed to grieve, for my sorrow was great. 

I have spoken to several priests about it and none understood my need to reach out to God in the confessional and grieve WITH Him about it. Emotion seems to unnerve us, but rather I think we would all  be better off if we covered ourselves with ashes and sackcloth for our sins. 

Our little evils are a big deal and the evil we see in our society is an incredibly big deal. Sin is incompatible with our Christian heart and should alarm our conscience. We should recoil at the monstrosity of wickedness and rejoice at the miracle of the deep healing of confession. 

When no one acknowledges the authenticity of the spiritual battle that wages within us, there really isn't a reason to glory in a victory.... and in each confession... there is a true victory. 

Just look at a crucifix.

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