Not many people enjoy going to confession; but it’s reality is a wonder of our Catholic Faith.
Is confession like diaper changing? Bear with me here…the other day I was changing my toddler’s diaper (pretty normal thing for me to do, after all). He’s at an age where he absolutely hates getting his diaper changed. Peter was covered in poop, but decided he was too impatient to hold still for 30 seconds. He started screaming and turning and trying to jump off the changing table.
It’s amazing to me that he consistently fights so hard. Being in a dirty diaper is not comfortable for him. He wants to be clean. Kicking and screaming makes the whole process harder on both of us, and prolongs it by several minutes. Yet, he reacts this way to his diaper change all the time.
Don’t be a toddler in confession.
How many of us consistently delay going to confession, even when we have sin staining our souls? Do we fight the need to go and be absolved from our sins even though we need God’s mercy? Why do we do that? We know we will receive absolution, we know we will be washed free from our sin. But we fight God’s mercy like toddlers on the changing table.
“I don’t remember.”
Here’s the reality of confession: God holds no grudge against us.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a religious sister to whom Jesus appeared, revealing His desire for devotion to His Sacred Heart. When she spoke to her spiritual director about the visions, he wanted to help her verify she was speaking to the Lord. He told her to ask her vision, What was the last mortal sin I confessed? Jesus’ reply was, “I don’t remember.”
God does not care to recall our sins. When we come to Him for His mercy in confession, our slate is wiped clean. We are absolved and forgiven.
Severe without harshness.
A priest friend once shared this prayer with me. He explained that priests say this prayer before confession, in preparation to bring God’s mercy to the faithful. My perspective on confession changed forever when I read this:
"Grant to me, O Lord, that wisdom which stands beside Your throne, that I may know how to judge Your people with justice and Your poor ones with equity. Let me so use the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven that I may open to no one upon whom they should shut, nor close them to any for whom they should open. May my intention be pure, my zeal sincere, my charity patient, my labor fruitful. Let me be gentle without weakness, severe without harshness. Let me not disdain the poor, nor fawn over the rich. Make me kind that I may attract sinners, prudent in questioning them, adroit in directing them. Grant, I beseech you, skill to lead them back from sin, zeal in confirming them in good, diligence in elevating them to better things. Grant me good judgment in answering questions and correctness in counseling. Grant me light when things are obscure, wisdom when they are entangled, victory when they are difficult. May I myself not be lost. Amen."