Oh, So Ripe for Confession!

Oh, So Ripe for Confession! November 23, 2013

Basilica Santa Sabina, Roma. My photo, 2010

It’s been quiet around here for the past few days, I know; I forgot to post that my husband and I were taking a time away to celebrate anniversaries. We’re not quite back — we’re going to try to take the rest of the weekend off — but we’re at home, now and I am very much looking forward to going to confession in a few hours, in anticipation of the end of the liturgical year, the end of the Year of Faith and the coming of Advent, which is my favorite season.

And I wanted to encourage everyone else to consider going to confession this week, or next, for the coming of Advent, too.

I’ve been meaning to go to confession for a few weeks, and I have very much missed being able to participate in the Holy Eucharist. I know we are a culture that more or less jumps up for communion regardless of the state of our souls, or how long it’s been since we’ve made a confession — when nothing is a sin, anymore, we stop believing we should deny ourselves anything — but maturity just doesn’t allow that, and my sins are sitting before me sneering, so today is the day.

Receiving the Holy Eucharist at mass will be so much the sweeter for having confessed, today. Assuming I don’t throw myself right back into mortal sin sometime between this afternoon and tomorrow. And don’t kid yourself, I can do that.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I love confession, so I look forward to this happily even though, yeah, I’ve been pretty bad. We didn’t do anything gravely sinful while on vacation, mind you — aside from not saying “no” enough to dessert, how much trouble can you get into with one gin-and-tonic a night — but on the whole, I’ve been idolatrous (and you think I’d know better); I’ve been slothful, egotistical, angry, rude, covetous, stuck-up, condescending, untruthful, gluttonous…I could go one, but won’t.

All this talk of confession reminds me that Max Lindenman recently wrote to me about this controversial piece I’d written on the subject, some time ago, and asked me why I hadn’t included it in I Don’t Want to be a Hoo-er!

The honest answer is, I’d forgotten I’d written it. I should have included it:

“Some of the things I’ve done, I know I’m going to do them again. I didn’t mind confessing, but it seemed wrong to say an Act of Contrition when I’m not even sure I’m contrite. I know what the church teaches, but God knows everything; He understands my mind and heart. He knows I’m not out to defy him; I’m just living my life, and exploring and growing up. Me and Jesus, we’re okay.”

Apparently the priest enjoyed this. He told the un-penitent that he appreciated this thoughtful confession over the “lip-service” he so often heard. But there was the matter of absolution. “I don’t know how to do a ‘partial’ absolution, and it seems pointless. Your venial sins are absolved in the Mass, anyway.”

“I know,” the young man agreed. “I’ll just have to stay away from Communion until I can get this all sorted out.”

The idea of anyone withholding himself from Communion for what could be years threw me, but he explained, “I’m not going to live a casual, sloppy faith. I believe God would rather have me play fair and be respectful than make a rote confession. So many people just mouth the right words and only half mean it — as if you can game the system or fool God into thinking you’re alright. Who’s alright, anyway? Isn’t that why God is merciful, because none of us is alright? I love the Eucharist; I won’t treat it so carelessly. I can still make a spiritual communion. If it’s true, the grace should be able to sneak in.”

He had me there.

“Don’t worry about it,” he reassured me with a charming smile. “It will all work out. After all, the Father is very fond of me.”

So, if you’re in the mood, you can read it now. I’m sure it will still be shocking and controversial, for some. But I still like the piece.

I like what Pope Francis said, today:

When a person is the temple, the kind of adoration required is that of “seeking the spirit of the Lord within and knowing that God is within,” he said. “You listen to him and follow him.”

Purification is needed, though, to make a human being a real temple, he said: “Purification with prayer, penance, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

At least I’m on the right track. :-)

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