As an Evangelical I read verses in the New Testament like James 5:16 with dissatisfaction. I was openly critical of my faith tradition in light of passages, like these, which clearly extolled us to confess to each other, and not just in private, to God.
We simply didn’t do it even though it was clearly, sometimes urgently, commanded of us.
As a Catholic I’ve come to hold confession in a place of great importance—in a place it deserves—which is, also, interestingly, the place its increasingly coming to occupy as the Catholic Church slowly but surely reaches out. That is to say, more Catholics are coming back to confession and coming to see the power of confession, something which us converts, who lived without it, often see right away.
And confession is leading the charge in terms of evangelizing our non-Catholics brothers and sisters—because confession is awesome, and Protestants like myself are beginning to find that out.
All this to say that confession is incredible, and truly bringing your shortcomings to God and having to actually vocalize them to His representative (the priest) makes said shortcomings all that much more real, and tangible, and serious.
This is a good view of sin, in my opinion, because sin needs to be taken seriously and having to admit that sin out loud—rather than let it fester in my heart or admit it, privately, to God—means I must, with His help, take it that much more seriously.
Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through vocalizing my shortcomings, I’ve begun to recognize things I struggle with which I hadn’t even considered. This, ultimately, is one of those graces of the sacrament. This, also, makes you realize why God designed it this way (to confess to another person out loud) and why it makes so much sense. And this is incredible.
What I’ve learned, through the grace of the confessional, is that something I struggle with perennially is simply trusting God (when it really counts).
Relying on Me, Myself, & I
I rely far too often on myself.
It’s funny, and disappointing really, because I know how awful I can be.
I’ve often thought that a good way of explaining why I’m a Christian is because I fall short of even my own goals and ambitions for myself.
I fall short of even my own standards.
As a Christian, Jesus offers me supernatural grace to not only attain what I want for myself (which is decidedly bonkers anyway) but to attain what He wants as the Author and Perfecter of Life. How much better can that be anyway.
Learning to Trust God More
I’ve found, through the insight of confessional grace, that I often trust God too little. Especially when it counts.
But with His grace I’m changing.
I have a lot to trust God with right now because there’s a lot going on in my life and in the life of our family. We’re expecting, any day now. Literally.
On the same page, we’re looking for a parish home to plug into, a church community that can support our family as it grows and feels warm, welcoming, and like home. And is also relatively orthodox when it comes to the faith. These things, I’m finding, can be a challenge.
Again, we’re also on the hunt for godparents since we (a) don’t have a parish home, we (b) don’t really know many Catholics. We’re hoping to find godparents we can connect with, who will build into our lives, and be good, godly examples for our son as he grows up. But again, we’re finding this kind of thing can be quite a challenge.
I ought to bring these things to God. Especially considering they concern Him directly, I ought to bring them to God. But often I don’t.
Often I forget not to pray about these things—because I pray for them every day at Mass—but I forget, in the moment, when a desperate wave of panic comes over me when I’m thinking, later in the day, about where we’re going to baptize our son, I forget, in those genuine moments, to give it up to God and stop worrying.
I forget to trust God when it really counts, not just when I’m on my knees in prayer, face to face with God in the Mass, but in the trenches, in the midst of the daily battle—when it really counts.
I forget to trust God in those simple acts and actions that go on throughout the day.
I teach Kindergarten (I do!) so I’m used to things going sideways, constantly, throughout the day but do I pray, do I trust God, when something ridiculous happens and I’m not sure of the outcome? Do I trust God when I’m headed to a meeting the next town over and traffic is a nightmare and there’s nothing on the radio (first world problem, to be sure)? Do I trust God when I’ve made a simple and thoughtless mistake, or said something foolish to a colleague, and have no idea how I’m going to make things right?
Do I trust God when it really counts?
The Grace of the Confessional
The Sacrament of Reconciliation has given me the abundant grace to recognize my behaviour, which is a significant step. Without the healthy monthly pattern of bringing my sins before a priest, I likely would’ve been a lot longer realizing some of the unfruitful habits I’ve collected in my thirty years. Without needing to intentionally and critically examine my life, to bring it before God in the confessional, I would’ve likely never thought of how little I really trust God at times.
Thank God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation though.
Through this sacrament, through the sacrament of my baptism, and through the daily sacrament of the Eucharist Christ continues to give me the grace to live in a new way—to trust Him better.
I’m learning, I’m trying, and in the Catholic Church I’ve found abundant grace—graces I could’ve never imagined.