Thursday, May 24, 2007

Confession: what God taught me today

I really wanted, for reasons of my own, to go to confession today. Before Mass. And so, I left early giving myself what I thought was plenty of time.

The line wasn't long at all, understand. One penitent was in the confessional and another was ahead of me. At least a half and hour, maybe more, was left before the confessional closed. I'd examined my conscience and was enjoying being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. No sweat, right?


The person in the confessional would not leave. I kept glancing at my watch. Time was, incredibly it seemed to me, running out! For a brief, unworthy moment, I considered bribing my fellow waiting penitent but thankfully the temptation passed and instead I found myself praying that the priest had hooked "a big fish."

With 8 minutes to go before the deadline, the confessional opened and the lady in front of me sped in, not before giving me a brief, pitying look. Oh boy. Looked like no confession before Mass for me today.

Five minutes later, she came out and headed straight for a pew. Was there time for me? I poked my nose in. "Father, will you hear my confession?"

He said yes, said the introductory prayers and looked at me.

For maybe the first time in my life, I confessed my sins—the no frills way.

Essentially, I had five sins to confess. Now, normally, this is how I'd confess the sin of, let's say, gossip.

"Well, Father, see, here I was standing around with some friends and somebody said something about somebody else who wasn't there, and really, I didn't want to hear it, but on the other hand I didn't start it, and before I knew what happened, I laughed at the information I heard and...well, before I knew it I added something of my own, and...etc., etc."

Today was different.

"I hurt another by gossiping about her two times."

There was no time for frills, no time for confessing anybody else's sins except my own. And no time for excuses! Just the facts, ma'am.

By stating my sins without frills, I think I recognized them far more clearly for the evil they were. Incredibly, there was enough time for the priest to give me some good advice, a pertinent penance, and of course the joy of absolution.

I hope and pray I remember this the next time I go. No matter how much time I have, it's not a therapy visit or a gripe session. It's confession of my sins (nobody else's) and a sincere request for forgiveness.

Thank you, Jesus.

(For a great post on making a good confession, check out Father Zuhlsdorf's post here.)