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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Recognizing the Value of Confession

I have never valued the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a regular part of my life until about a year ago. Before then, I went sporadically as a youth and in college and rarely remember going as an adult. In the last three years, two of my girls received their Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion. As part of the parent-child meetings, parents were encouraged to also go to Reconciliation. With my second daughter this year the DRE mentioned that our priest recommended monthly Confession. 

This in combination with Matthew Kelly's Confession chapter in Rediscover Catholicism encouraged me to reconsider the role of Reconciliation in my life. The chapter is one from the book that I have read multiple times and will continue to revisit. The words spoke to me, such as, "In my own personal journey, Confession has played a very powerful role, helping me to strive to become the best-version-of-myself. I find Confession to be a humbling experience, but not a humiliating one. Above all, I find that it is an experience of liberation that enables me to reassess where I am in the journey, helps me to identify what is holding me back, and encourages me to continue along the way" (p. 150). He then went on to discuss how "this sacrament has been abandoned in our own time" (p. 151), which I could relate to since my own experiences in different phases in my life had never pointed toward a strong appreciation for the Sacrament evidenced by regular Confession. The rest of the chapter was compelling for me because of his personal testimony of the power of the Sacrament and why he recommends that people seriously consider it, making me rethink what I knew of the Sacrament. 

With his words and the recommendation of our priest in mind, I decided to try to integrate the Sacrament more regularly into my life. Initially, what I found along the way was the first experience that I remember feeling the sense of a priest acting in persona Christi at Confession. I had the same priest on different occasions and as I would reflect back on what he told me, it always seemed to be perfect - exactly what I needed to hear at the moment even though I didn't realize in advance it was what I needed. Yet, there was not always a clear link between the most compelling aspects of his words and what I had confessed. Instead, I would receive targeted feedback based on what I said, and then there were more global, big picture what I really needed right then mixed in. The priest also had a calming presence in general, so he was very comforting. As a result, the Sacrament I typically connected with being nervous or discomfort turned into peace and a recognition of the power of the Sacrament. 

Since then that priest transferred to another parish, but I will remember his smile and his role in connecting me to the Sacrament. In the months since his departure, I continued to go to Reconciliation - often every two months or a month and  a half, rather than monthly. Right now in my Reconciliation journey, I am trying to learn to have good Confessions while going more regularly, including not wanting to sound like a broken record with some of the areas where I struggle in my day to day life as a wife, mom, and educator, as well as trying to be more cognizant of areas I should confess. Maybe it's time to re-read the Confession chapter to see how Kelly's words will speak to me where I am at right now as opposed to the me in early months needing the encouragement to take that first step and go to Confession regularly.

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