Since it’s that time of year, when we are preparing for Holy Week, here are a few thoughts on going to Confession.
1, Be Focused: what do you want to say, what do you need to say? Remember that the proper name for what ordinarily call Confession is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because that is what it is about, being reconciled to God. We speak our sins aloud so that we can identify what is keeping us apart from God. We say them aloud because it makes what we have done real, undeniable. Confession is the the means, reconciliation is the end.
2. Be Specific: since confessing sins is always difficult and embarrassing, we easily slip into generalities. I drive too fast, we might say, but that’s not very informative. How about, last Friday carelessly around narrow back streets in north London. Why? Because I was afraid of being late and was a bit lost. If I’m honest though, this happens quite often.
3. Be Responsible: everything we do is related to what other people do or have done, sooner of later, so there’s always someone else we can blame. But in confession we are concerned with our contribution; you can’t confess someone else’s sins, though it is tempting to try. I could say I was driving too fast because I was a bit lost because my Satnav is poorly designed and difficult to use, which is entirely true, but entirely beside the point. The Satnav isn’t selfish or inconsiderate, I am.
4. Be Trusting: believe and accept that God does in fact forgive when we ask. People often find this difficult, but there’s no point in seeking reconciliation if we don’t fundamentally accept that it is possible for me. Being honest about my sins isn’t a punishment, it’s a way to discovering just how much I am loved.