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 season of Lent is here! This is a graced time in the church year when there is a desire to draw closer to our Lord and change what keeps us distant from God. You may ask yourself, “How can I prepare my heart to fully receive the many blessings available to me?” When a person considers possibilities, the list of aesthetical practices is endless. One that is on the list is celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. This is not the most desired sacrament to celebrate. It requires us to admit, out loud to a priest, how we have not been the best person. We have sinned.
How does one make a good confession? Preparation for the celebration of reconciliation can be a daily routine. Every morning when you get out of bed, offer the day to God. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live the day the best that you can by responding, as Jesus would, to the situations that come into your life.
At the end of the day before retiring, review the happenings of the day. St. Teresa of Kolkota would ask herself two questions, “What did I do for Jesus today?” and “What did I do to Jesus today?” This examination of your conscience will help you become aware of failures and areas in your life that need change. Consider what needs to be done the next day to bring about change.
Another way to prepare to know where a change needs to happen in your life is to ask and listen to observations from a respected and trusted person. This person could be a family member, friend or one of the people you interact with at work or in whatever situation in which you find yourself. We know ourselves from our eyes. Others have a perspective of us that we do not see. This is our blind spot. In a conversation with this person you may ask how they see you. Invite the person to help you grow in greater self-knowledge to help bring about positive change.
Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance to examine your conscience. Pray for the grace to have an open heart and mind to be honest in admitting where failures happened and where change is desired. Pray for the grace to be truly sorry for your sins. If possible, ask forgiveness of any person you hurt because of your choices and make restitution where necessary.
Jesus loves you deeply and is waiting to meet you in the sacrament of reconciliation. What mercy, joy and peace await you when you celebrate the sacrament!