Saturday Afternoon Confession - Dread and Love
In our diocese, most parishes have confessions on Saturday afternoon before the vigil mass. For me, it is the most convenient time to go. I must confess, I dread and love confession at the same time. I dread the human aspect of having to confess my sins to Jesus through a priest, but I can't argue since it is the biblical precedent which the Church has followed since its nascent days. After the resurrection, Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them the power to forgive sins.
I dread confessing my worst thoughts, actions and attitudes to another human being, however I also know that at the same time I am whispering in the ear of God. How can that be? Catholicism is incarnational, God uses the stuff of earth to bring about the grace from heaven. From a purely human perspective, I dread what the priest must think of me, yet I know he is graced from God to be a conduit and as such doesn't stand in judgment. Admittedly though, I can't always process the experience as I am doing here, while standing in line by the confessional. Instead, after almost ten years, I still get anxious, praying to the saints for assistance to make a good confession, dreading the confession and hoping for it to be over, cause I'm still human.
But I love confession too! I love the gentleness of the priest as he may offer some advice, and I love it just as much when he doesn't and just absolves my sins. (I have never been yelled at in the confessional as Thomas Merton famously was.) After I pray my act of contrition, I love to and need to hear the words:
"God, the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
I then leave the confessional feeling like the weight of the world has just been taken off my shoulders. And sometimes I don't feel anything, but I love knowing that I have just received the forgiveness bought for me on Calvary cleansing me from my sins and giving me more grace (supernatural power) to avoid sinning in the future.* I love the feeling of a clean slate and a cleansed conscience.
When GK Chesterton was asked why he became Catholic, he replied; "To get rid of my sins."
I'll say Amen to that.
*From personal experience, I can attest that there is a grace to avoid sin that I had not experienced before my reversion.