Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The joy of confession

Discover the joy, peace, beauty, forgiveness, and healing that comes with the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation, also known simply as confession.

By Aaron S. Robertson

A talk I gave during a retreat for high school catechism students at my parish on April 14, 2024.

Sin is the obstacle blocking the joy that God intends for humanity, for each and every one of us. It’s a separation from God and a deviation from His divine will and purpose for creation, and it comes in many forms. Sin is any thought, word, or deed that violates God’s moral law, disrupts the harmony of the created order, and damages the relationship between humanity and God. Now, when we say thought, we really mean dwelling on bad or impure thoughts, whether they’re about ourselves, others, or God. We all have thoughts constantly running through our minds. This is a natural condition of our fallen human psyche. The real question is whether we let them stew to the point that we willingly allow them to turn into something more serious, like lust, jealousy, rage, unjust anger, the desire to harm someone or ourselves, and so on. Sin also comes in the form of not doing what we should have done - we call this omission. Did we purposely fail to stand up for someone or something in a situation in a way that would have been fair, just, holy, right? Did we intentionally withhold information or the entire truth in a situation that could have caused some sort of harm or distress to others? These are just a couple examples of sinning by omission.

Sin creates a barrier between individuals and God, hindering our ability to fully experience the joy, peace, and fulfillment that come from being in communion with Him. The effects of sin also create that same barrier between all of us. Sin leads to misunderstandings, misperceptions, mistrust, a distorted lens. It not only eats away at our individual relationships with God, but with one another.

The solution? The sacrament of Reconciliation, commonly called confession. And that solution is available here today. And so I respectfully challenge you to take advantage of it today.

I challenge you to go in there, into that confessional, and give it your best. That’s an absolute requirement if you want God’s forgiveness, healing, and the graces necessary to combat sin and temptation going forward. You must give it your best, and that also means genuinely being sorry. Try with everything you’ve got. Recount all your major, serious, intentional sins since your last confession. If you genuinely forget something, that’s totally okay. We all have flawed memories, and for many people, they’re trying to recount years and even decades of sins. But if you’re aware of something you’ve done or may have done – if it enters your mind at any time from now as you’re listening to me through your time in there – you can’t hide it. You need to disclose it. Is it tough to do this at times? Does it make us feel ashamed, embarrassed, pretty lowly? Dirty? Heck yes, it does. But I’ll tell you what. I promise you, with everything I’ve got, that if you go in there, and you genuinely try your best to recount your sins, to be totally honest with God and with yourself, to not beat around the bush and try to hide the seriousness of your sins in vague language, and just let it all come out; if you’re genuinely sorry, I promise you, with everything I’ve got, that things are gonna start happening in ways that cannot be explained by anything in this world.

If you feel separated, alienated from God and from others right now, if you’re tired of searching for answers and relief and distractions in other things, only to come up empty-handed, if you feel lost, if you’re tired of running and hiding, then today is your day. Go in there and give it your best, and walk out of there tall, forgiven, healed, joyful, and prepared to see the entire world and your life in a new lens. I sure did after 20-plus years. Have nothing to hide or fear. Priests have heard it all. God knows it all. Your secrets are safe with them. There is no sin He can’t or won’t forgive you for, there is no wound He can’t or won’t heal. God bless you. Thank you!

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