Editor’s note: During Lent, many of us choose to go to confession (the sacrament of reconciliation). But, it may have been a while since your last visit. It may seem a bit daunting. And there are questions: “Why do I have to go, doesn’t God already know?” “How can I confess that face to face? The priest knows me.” Even people who receive the sacrament regularly have questions. With that in mind, The Compass asked some local priests and others involved in pastoral ministry to give tips about going to confession. We will feature a different writer each week during Lent. See if they answer your questions.
The sacrament of reconciliation is one of the greatest gifts God has graced us with. The more frequently we approach this sacrament, like all sacraments, the more the life of God grows in us: his life, love, peace, light and joy. His life in us is the best gift we can receive.
Here are three ways to prepare and enter more fully into this beautiful sacrament.
- I think the best preparation for confession is simply allowing oneself to be loved by God. This love affects us in the most powerful way, enabling us to approach our Father in heaven, as a child, sure of his forgiveness and only desirous to restore the closeness that has been lost.Quietly find a place where you can be alone with God. Realize his constant presence and his tender love for you, in the least little things in life. Become aware of the Father’s gaze of love upon you; when he gazes upon you, he is loving you.Relish this truth that he loves you and he desires that you be truly free and full of joy. He wants to set you free. He wants you “up and running.” He loves to see his children fully alive. He does not desire to see us stunted in our growth. Believe this truth; believe, as St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “more in his love than in your weakness.” This is key. This will “open your eyes” to his gaze.Now, invite the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and allow him to shed his light and love within you. Being the person of love, the Spirit reverences our soul. He never comes with force or sharpness, but rather with extreme tenderness and power. Allow the Commandments of God to direct your gaze to areas that are weak and experience frequent attacks from the enemy.
- Become aware of what is “not of God,” where sin has entered. St. Teresa always told us as young sisters to say the most difficult thing first, or “the enemy will talk you out of it.” He will, because the enemy is crafty and he will try to convince you of the shame. He will cajole you to wait until the end to see if you still want to confess it. The most difficult thing to confess is usually the “lynchpin” to many graces.
- Allow yourself to be forgiven, by accepting and truly listening to the words of absolution. Believe in what you hear: “You are forgiven, absolved from all your sins.” Allow God’s spoken word to affect you. Recall that when you are forgiven, there is also an “embrace.” The Father presses you close to his heart and loves you.
The sacrament is so powerful it clears all the debris that impedes the fullness of God’s life. A clean heart has countless blessings with it: A clean heart can see God! This Lent let us seek the sacrament of grace and mercy and drink fully from the font of life.
Confession series articles: