The Beauty of the Sacrament of Confession - 2021-07-13
Some folks have mentioned to me before that they are amazed at my love for the Mass. Indeed, like for any Catholic, the Mass is a central element of my faith. For me, the Mass can truly be a bedrock of my daily life, holding everything together (if done well). And the Eucharist especially I hold quite dear. What could be greater than to receive our Lord truly and in such an intimate manner in Communion? What's more, I hold a personal belief, based on the Eucharistic Miracles, that we specifically receive His Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. In the Mass, at the communion rail, Christ gives us, through the priest, His Sacred Heart so that It may go down our esophagus and pass right next to our very own heart. I like to hold my hand to my chest, imagining that His Heart is beating next to mine, and that I am hearing His Heart beating as John would in the Last Supper. However, despite my love for the Mass, the Sacrament I hold most dearly is the Sacrament of Confession.
To begin with, this is the very first Sacrament I was able to receive in my conversion to the Faith, and that I could continue to receive on a regular basis. And its healing powers on my soul were noticeable to me since my very first confession, which took place under very irregular circumstances. I am still extremely grateful for the priest who put so much care into ensuring that I would not spend the confinement of 2020 without receiving this Sacrament. After the confinement was over, lasting something like a few months, the very first thing I did was to call my local parish and ask when the priest would be available for confession. And so I continued to go to confession, receiving its grace, until the day I was admitted into Christ's Church on July 3rd 2020, the day of St. Thomas, the Apostle who doubted.
In this sense I am grateful that I was able to receive this Sacrament much before being able to receive Communion. The reason being that, often times its easy for us to see the Sacrament of Penance as a gateway to Communion, and in some regards it is. But it is also a Sacrament in its own right, and has a real purpose in the plan of our salvation. It gives us graces, not simply disposing us to receive the Eucharist, absolving us of our sins, but truly ordering our hearts to Jesus Christ, configuring us to Him. And perhaps more than anything else, at least for me, this Sacrament has helped to humble me and to truly more than anything else help me to understand the power of God's mercy.
Perhaps it is these two facets of this Sacrament that I find are so desperately needed in this world today: accountability and forgiveness. The Sacrament of Confession first invites us to humble ourselves, to humble myself, and recognize that I am a sinner. Not only am I a sinner, but I am very much broken, and I need help, I need God. Too often the modern culture tries to hide this from us, so that it demands nothing from us. God, on the other hand, is very demanding of us. This is something we need. But it is accompanied necessarily and immediately by mercy: when we truly repent and humbly confess our sins, God's abundant mercy is shown and made more clear. As I confess my sins, realizing all the wrongs that I have done, I expect the (metaphorical) lashings, but instead I am met with love and forgiveness. I am once again the prodigal son who has returned to his father. And every time you go to confession, so are you. You are that prodigal son, who has betrayed your father, betrayed his trust, wasted your life on meaningless distractions, but all your father cares about now is that you have returned to him.
I truly encourage all Catholics to go to confession frequently. Not so frequent as to stimulate scrupulosity, but enough to humble oneself and also to be reminded of God's infinite mercy.