Wednesday, February 22

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

We've been talking about the Sacrament of Reconcilation for two weeks now in RCIA. We've answered just about all the questions I had, and we answered a whole bunch more that I didn't know I had. I am very much looking forward to taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After the first one, of course. I'm scared silly of my first confession. Deacon L. gave us a cheat sheet pamphlet, but I'm still scared.

I'm looking forward to not having to worry constantly, Did I repent enough? When I prayed to God, did he truly forgive me, or should I pray for forgiveness some more?

When I was Mormon, the concept of repentace was rather fuzzy. I could repent for the small stuff, like drinking a glass of tea. But if I had a big ol' sin (like having sex with my boyfriend before marriage), I'd have to go to the Bishop, the leader of the ward, which is like a parish - a regional designation of parishoners. There was no set punishment for set sins. I knew some girls who would get disfellowshipped for "heavy petting" with their boyfriends, others who would have sex with their boyfriends but would seem very repentant would not have any penalties at all. Excommunication was mostly for either some kind of apostacy, breaking the law (like stealing or going to jail for drugs), adultery or other sexual sins by people who were endowed, or other serious sins.

It was up to each individual person to decide their own worthiness to take the Sacrament. If a person felt that their sin was grievous enough, they will go to the Bishop and confess. The repentance process when it got to the level of Bishop was pretty serious. There could be multiple follow-up meetings to make sure the sin was not being committed again. It was up to the discression of the Leadership as to how long the disfellowshipment or excommunication would last.

It seems almost unfathomable to me that I can go up and talk to a representative of Christ on earth and walk out with my sins forgiven. I know that some kind of form of pennance is required, like prayer or something like that. But it's still such a beautiful concept.

Asking for forgiveness of sins in prayer now is kind of weird. I know that I sort of have a "get out of jail free" card because I am getting baptized in two months. Then again, I am also trying to become very aware of when I sin, so that when I am baptized, I can be aware of what needs to be confessed. This is like a trial period for me, a practice run if you will, to learn how to find sin and be able to confess it.

It's an odd concept to feel like I'll be kind of saving my sins up. I have to keep it in a little mental Sin Journal, until I can give the page to the Priest, as it were, in confession. And then the page will go away. How amazing is that??

All I know is that I'm glad that Mormon baptisms don't count and I have to be rebaptized because I am really looking forward to having 34 years of sin washed away.


At 2:02 PM, Blogger Petra said...

All I know is that I'm glad that Mormon baptisms don't count and I have to be rebaptized because I am really looking forward to having 34 years of sin washed away.

That was the same with me too, though I hadn't been baptized before. At the same time, I sometimes regret that I can't confess to a priest the graver sins I have committed before my baptism. I think sometimes that I will say them at a point when I make a big 'lifetime' confession (like before getting married, if ever). Though I know that these sins are already washed away, it will still be good to be able to tell them to a priest and hear the words that I'm forgiven.

I was also pretty nervous before my first Confession (in Jan. 2005, some two or three weeks after my baptism). Unfortunately (or fortunately) I stumbled upon a very old Capuchin priest who was apparently completely deaf (!). I asked him something about one of the sins but he didn't respond, and later he mumbled some pious clich├ęs and then gave me a Padre Pio holy card. I was pretty angry afterwards, though also aware that I had now experienced one of the most amazing sacraments... But experiences grew gradually better with other priests and now I really like Confession, even though it is always difficult to bring oneself to really go there and say all this.

As far as practice goes, I often spontaneously have the idea "I should go to Confession" and then go as soon as possible. I go to Confession about once in a month, I think that's quite a good rhythm (also depending on the circumstances, individual sins, etc.). I spent two months in Brussels, Belgium in the Fall last year and first didn't plan to go to Confession there, but then realized that I missed it and that my soul was in need of some 'cleaning' because of all the small things. It was a great experience and I actually went twice to Confession while I was there...

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Confession is a great gift that Catholics are extremely fortunate to have. God, the Master Psychologist, knows what we need and He provides it. As Petra said, once a month is a great idea (or more often as prompted by the Holy Spirit). Be aware that Satan often does his best to get us not to go. It will seem like we're too busy, or next week would be better, etc. When those thoughts come to us, we should make absolutely sure that we ignore them and go!


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