February 20th

In the last article, I began reflecting on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession.  I’d like to continue that reflection by focusing on some of the benefits (in addition to our sins being forgiven) that come from receiving the Sacrament.

In addition to receiving forgiveness of our sins we also receive assurance that our sins have been forgiven.  Once we have received the sacramental absolution of our sins from the priest we have certainty that our sins have been forgiven.  We know that God bestows His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that knowledge can be very helpful if we are ever tempted to “beat ourselves up” over past sins that we have already confessed.  We can see in those feelings of guilt a temptation to not trust in God’s mercy.  If memories of previously confessed sins come back to haunt us, we can remind ourselves that God has forgiven us our sins and then thank Him for the mercy that He has bestowed upon us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Another great benefit that comes from confessing our sins (even our venial sins) out loud to a priest is that it helps us to grow in humility.  Pride has a way of pulling the wool over our eyes when it comes to looking at our own hearts.  It is very easy for us to justify ourselves and rationalize away our sins.  Through regularly confessing our sins we are able to have a more realistic picture of who we really are and it reminds us that we are always in need of God’s mercy.

While on the subject of humility, it is important that when we come to Confession that we confess all of our sins, but we should avoid two extremes (which both are rooted in pride).  We should avoid, on the one hand, exaggerating our sins and making them out to be more than they really are; and on the other hand, we should avoid excusing ourselves.  We should take our sins seriously, but real humility is grounded in truth.  When we come to Confession, we come to confess our sins and receive God’s mercy: not to justify ourselves or make excuses.

A final benefit that comes to mind is spiritual direction.  When we go to Confession the priest offers us advice that will help us in our struggle against sin.  When the lines are long (like they often are during our usually scheduled Confession times) the advice is usually short, just to keep the line moving.  If you are in need of more in-depth spiritual direction, it is better to call (or email) the office and make an appointment to see a priest for Confession and direction.  This is just a practical point of common courtesy for others who also want to go to Confession.

God bless,

Father White