OK, public confession: I hate going to the doctor. I think it’s a waste of time and money. Sitting on the awkward paper-covered table and staring at the glass containers filled with cotton balls and oversized popsicle sticks is almost unbearable. And now that I’m older, I don’t even get a lollipop. Truthfully, the thing I hate the most is admitting there’s something wrong with me.
Now, I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I’m sure of it. And unfortunately, the same goes for confession. Although, many people who regularly see their doctor still don’t practice the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I know. It’s scary. Having to go through a lengthy examination of conscience and listing your failings is unpleasant and uncomfortable. Standing in line for what seems like forever just gives more parishioners the opportunity to see that you’re a sinner. Or maybe you’re positive Father will remember each of your sins and look at you knowingly at the next parish council meeting.
Whatever excuse we use to keep us away from confession, I can assure you, the devil is quite happy. He doesn’t want us to receive grace, and he certainly doesn’t want us to reject him.
Our Lord, the divine physician, is the only one who can heal our wounds and take away our sins. But even though He knows all, we have to reveal to him our symptoms. Because in the same way that an illness keeps us from being energetic and healthy, past and habitual sin keeps us from a deep, intimate relationship with Him. Unlike physical wounds, which can affect us forever, in Reconciliation, the stain of sin from our souls is removed as if it never happened.
“But I don’t need to go see a doctor. I have Google and WebMD and that guy at the health food store to fix what’s wrong with me.” Well, that MIGHT work in the physical life, but it won’t in the spiritual life. Only talking to God about the things we’ve done wrong just isn’t the same as overcoming fear and pride and coming face to face with our sin in the confessional. Besides showering abundant graces, confession stretches us, humbles us and gives us a greater capacity to love. Only then can we be saints.
So, if you haven’t yet experienced the mercy of Reconciliation this Lenten season, please go. It’s time to see a doctor.
4 Replies to “Have you seen your doctor lately?”
I have my very first Confession on Wednesday evening. Pray for me as I’m VERY nervous. I will be coming into the Church Saturday night and this is the biggest hurdle I feel I’ve faced along the way. Coming from a Protestant background, Confession is (was) a foreign concept to me. I look forward to it, but at the same time I dread it because anything new/different makes my nerves terrible. Even so, I know it must be done and I look forward to the weight of my sins finally being lifted.
Megan, thanks for your comment. I’m so happy you are coming into the Church!! What a courageous decision.
I will definitely be praying for you as you head into your first Confession.
I guess my only advice is to not forget that the priest is “en persona cristi” which means in the person of Christ. Jesus Christ is literally the one you are confessing to. He knows all you’ve done and He knows your heart. So that should make it easy to be honest, but comforting enough to know that if you forget something or are ashamed of something, His unconditional love is steadfast.
And you should also remember how many graces you’ll receive when you partake in the Eucharist without all those stains of sin on your soul. That’s the life!
I can absolutely relate to Megan. Being raised Mennonite, I was accepted into the Church on Easter Vigil 2004 at age 16. I was very nervous for my First Confession, as I only knew what to say by what I saw in the movies. It was also a face-to-face confession. I think the worst part of it is the waiting beforehand. The sorrow you feel for having sinned. When I’m in Confession (and I now prefer face-to-face as I believe it makes it more personal for me, I’m seen as a person and not just a list of sins) I just can hardly wait to get it all off of my chest because I *know* what it feels like to receive God’s grace. I long for that feeling of relief and joy, knowing I’m right with God. My Confession often turns into an hour long discussion with the priest. The laying on of hands for absolution is very powerful – I often think of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son. While it’s normal to feel shame for our sins, it is not normal to feel hesitant to Confess them. I’ve had some bad experiences with Confessors, as I have with doctors, but it won’t stop me from trying to obtain healing. God didn’t give us Reconciliation because HE needs it, but rather He gave us this Sacrament for our own benefit, because He loves us. It is good to talk about our failings and our weaknesses. Being trained in theology and knowing seminarians and priests alike, I know they are educated in theology as well as counselling. They’re skilled at what they do, and they’ve heard it all! Nothing you can say will shock them – they’re there for your benefit, not theirs. When the priest puts on his vestments he becomes the embodiment of Christ, and it is Christ that embraces us. It’s not about how many times we fall, but rather how many times we get back up. Welcome Home, Megan, and I pray that you come to love and appreciate the joys that the Sacrament of Reconciliation can bring into your life.
Thanks to both of you. First Confession went well. It truly renewed my soul. I think I was most scared because I wasn’t sure how but once I got started it was fine. I cried! Now I understand what everyone means about how confession is absolutely necessary. I’ve finally been able to let go of those sins and shame because I know I am forgiven.
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