… harder than the act of making a confession is the examination of conscience that precedes it. It’s all that introspection and recalling of sins. I suppose a good examination of conscience is what prevents most people from making a regular habit of reconciliation.
It might be something as simple as thinking they don’t need to confess anything. No one has broken any commandants, so no harm no foul.
I suspect most people probably think they are good people. Personally, I think most people are good intentioned. But “good intentioned” and “goodness” aren’t the same thing, especially since one paves the road to hell.
Quite a few people I know and love think they are good people. They don’t break civil laws, cheat on their spouses and kick puppies. They’ve done no serious ill will against another so what do they have to confess? I can understand that thinking. It is the same thought process that kept me out of the confessional for over eight months. Oh, and there was the fact that I had no real intention of quitting the sin I would be confessing anyway, but we’ll save that lovely revelation for some other post.
So back to the examination. I have always hated exams. Exams at school, physicals at the doctor’s office. No one wants to find out they’re really stupid or are in failing health… because then we have to fix that. We have to study harder and start eating leafy greens and other horrible things like fiber; maybe even start exercising! *gasp* All that work and self improvement sucks. Its hard for us to imagine the end result of a degree or not dropping dead of a heart attack at 45. It’s all so abstract. Kind of like the idea of Heaven.
With a proper examination of conscience we have to recall and confess every ugly thought, derogatory comment, uncharitable reaction, piece of useless gossip we spread, and every time we silently cursed the jack hole that cut us off in our morning commute. Yes, I now these are venial sins. However, left unchecked and accounted for, these venial sins begin to morph into uglier things. Bigger things.
These unexamined and unconfessed venial sins make it easier for us to slop around in the muckier mortal stuff.
One of the hardest things for me to come to grips with was the fact that I wasn’t as good a person as I initially thought. And I honestly believe had it not been for The Church or the sacrament of confession I would die thinking I was indeed a good person… only to find out too late I was just good intentioned.