This weekend I enjoyed a much needed sacrament of confession. I've had a couple of things that were weighing very heavily on me. The biggest was forgiveness -- a gift and a curse so to speak.
I've always had serious trouble with giving mercy and forgiveness to others. I've learned to fake it pretty well but it is a burden that I relive daily and especially when I sleep; and I know that the fault there lies entirely on me. Recently, I've been examining my previous transgressions, realizing that if I cannot forgive others then how is it possible that He has forgiven me?
Allow me a to take an aside with my Protestant brothers. Back in my Southern Baptist days I begged for forgiveness. Begged. Numerous times. Do I believe that God, is not capable of forgiveness? No. On the contrary, the beauty of confession not only allows you to bring those sins into the light to be scorched and removed but you have accountability of another person; a spiritual physician so to speak. That and as I found this past weekend, a caring, understanding ear. When you are troubled and the root is sin, there is nothing better. I just wish it was more available. At my home parish open confession is only a half-hour on Saturday. With my family of four, that would be less than ten minutes a piece. It's no surprise that there are others. With that in mind, confession sadly lasts mere minutes.
Now to address my Catholic family. Yes, this and other sins from decades before were long since forgiven the last couple of times I've gone to confession. Sadly, much like my I have trouble forgiving others, I have an even harder time forgiving myself. Reconciliation is like a very terrible and scary roller coaster. You find yourself both wanting and not wanting to go. There is fear and it only gets worse the closer you get to the front of the line. Then you sit in the chair and you feel that sinking feeling; elated or gassy but definitely in that zone (thank you Frozen). Then, faster than you realize it's over. And it was great...even if your eyes were closed.
Does God forgive sins. Yes. Is the absolution that one gets from Reconciliation even real. I believe so and it was awesome to have that opportunity. AND it was great having that feeling of accountability with another person. It was also the Holy Spirit that allowed that weight to be lifted; totally. For the first time I actually FEEL forgiven. Now I can fix things, and as Saint Theresa of Avilla would say to her sisters when they exited the confessional (You can) "Begin Again." I take that to heart and I take my penance as my launching point to Begin Again.
If you haven't been to confession in a while perhaps now is the time. Schedule some time with your home parish OR find one nearest you. You will be glad you did.