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Russian Orthodox ikon (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

 

Looking back on my childhood, I find a disconnect between my Catholic schooling and our family’s home life. So many of the traditional Catholic practices that we learned in school were kept at school. We had different spiritual practices at home. My parents were active in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Rather than my combining these two influences for a rich, adult spirituality, I left many of the more traditional practices behind at graduation. One of these was frequent Confession.

In school we went to Confession monthly. There was thus little need to go as a family. So as a young adult I went during Advent and Lent only. Since the Church only requires yearly Confession—and even then only for mortal sins—going biennially might seem sufficient. But reception of the Eucharist is only required once a year too, and I certainly wouldn’t stop at once or twice.

As a Secular Carmelite, I was encouraged to confess my sins monthly. No we go as a family every four to eight weeks. Here are five ways frequent Confession has benefited me:

1. It reminds me I am a sinner.

Frequent Confession shows me my sinful habits. Since I confess the same type of sin over and over, I know what I need to work on most. I realize I am far from being a saint.

2. I receive grace for future temptations.

Often the first few days after I go to Confession, I sail through temptations unscathed. My heart is at peace. I find it easier to be loving.

3. Reconciliation, like all the sacraments, is an encounter with Christ.

I rarely hear the words of absolution without being moved. Jesus is speaking to me. He is not angry with me. He forgives and erases my sins. I am filled with resolve “to sin no more.”

4. The penance performed as part of the sacrament helps to make up for the hurt I have caused myself, others, and the Church.

I can confess my venial sins to God at home and be forgiven, but unless I do some kind of penance as well, these broken relationships are not fully healed. Going to Confession ensures I make amends for my sins.

5. I can receive solid spiritual counseling from the priest.

Granted, I have once or twice been misunderstood by priests who didn’t know me and gave me useless advice. But most of the time, the priest encourages me with the scriptures and advises me on how to do God’s will better in the future. I have sometimes been blessed to have a regular spiritual director who makes Reconciliation part of our meetings. It is priceless to receive absolution from a priest who truly understands my spiritual state.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful” (1458). Frequent Confession is an important practice for everyone who seeks to grow closer to Christ.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: What was your best or worst experience of sacramental Confession?

 

Written by crossini4774

    8 Comments

  1. Michelle Marvian October 19, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Once, I was honest enough to confess that I had little patience for the length of time the person before me was taking. You see, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have time and couldn’t bear another week without receiving Christ. When the door opened and a handicapped woman came out, of course I felt terrible. I didn’t nor would I ever actually be mean to the person.

    Anyway, he started hollering at me about it. Well, I was so upset; I think I cried all night off and on. I remember thinking that if I had been weaker in my faith, I may have never gone back. I never went back to him though.

    Our last priest always said, “The sacrament of confession is a celebration!” I hadn’t heard that before.

    • Connie Rossini October 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      I love that last comment! I always joke with my boys about doing “the Confession dance” in the Church parking lot, because we’re so full of joy after receiving absolution. Their reaction is to say, “Mo-om!”

      I don’t want to make this into a complaining session against priests, but I think it’s important for them to realize that what they say in the confessional could turn someone away from the Church. I once confessed an anger problem. The priest asked me what I thought was the root of my anger in a particular situation. I was not prepared for that question, and I’m someone who needs time to think over matters like that before I answer. So I said I didn’t know. He got on my case for not thinking enough about my sins. Believe me, my problem had always been the opposite! In the end, his reaction resulted in my getting angry. I think if someone is penitent, a priest should never be harsh, no matter what the sin or circumstances. Jesus was only harsh with those who refused to repent.

  2. melanie jean juneau October 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    AMEN

  3. Ruth Ann October 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Your reasons for frequent confession are beautifully and sincerely stated. Any one of them is reason enough to receive the sacrament regularly. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t eager to go to confession, but I did because I considered it God’s will. But over time I have changed, and I look forward to confession, probably for reason #3 and sometimes #5.

    I like your new website!

    • Connie Rossini October 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Thanks, Ruth Ann. I hope lots of my readers are inspired to go more often.

  4. Michael October 20, 2013 at 2:47 am

    I always feel so renewed and alive after confession. The sun shines brighter, the air fresher and my heart is lighter; I can feel Christ walking with me as I exit the Church and enter back into the world.

    • Connie Rossini October 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

      I am exactly the same. Some times I am reluctant to go, but I am always so glad I did!