This is an unusual moment on this blog. I am actually going to write something negative regarding the Church. For the past nine years I have blogged about the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as seen from the eyes of an evangelical Protestant ("Born Again" non-denominational Christian) who returned to the Catholic faith.
Today I'm going to right about a pet-peeve that I have had for years. It's actually not about the Church or the faith, but about Catholics. So here goes....
I love the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is also know as Confession.
It is a beautiful sacrament (as they all are) in which we encounter Jesus and experience the cleansing action of his blood poured out for our sins. Yes he was crucified and died only once, but that forgiveness provided on the cross extends throughout eternity and we avail ourselves of it through the priest who has received the authority to forgive sins from Jesus himself! We walk into the confessional burdened and sin-sick, and walk out freed and healed. Not only do we experience a restoration of our relationship with the Lord, but are given grace through the sacrament to go out and sin no more! How great is that?
My pet-peeve is the circumstances that often surround receiving this wonderful sacrament of grace.
In my diocese, I have the advantage of multiple parishes within a short driving distance and I like going to different churches each time. I am ashamed of my sinfulness and stupid thoughts and actions and I feel more comfortable confessing anonymously to priests who don't know me. Since I go about every two or three weeks, I visit a lot of different Catholic churches in my diocese. Several times I have noted that a person parks themselves directly in front of the confessional. In a completely empty church, the person literally sits in the pew in front of the confessional throughout confession! They themselves usually aren't going to confession so I wonder why they choose to use that spot to pray especially since the evening mass could be some forty- five minutes later?
I am anxious enough going to confession, but to think that someone is eavesdropping on the confessional is truly disturbing to me. What else would be the reason to sit in front of the confessional when the entire sanctuary is completely empty? I suspect these are disturbed folks and I need to have more grace for them, but it sure makes confession more anxiety provoking then it needs to be. Some parishes will have a sign that asks people to respect the privacy of the penitient and stand away from the confessional but most do not. When I have been standing in line for confession at times I have unintentionally overheard a loud penitent or demonstrative priest giving advice and I literally plug my ears, or move further to the back of the line. Therefore, I know that people directly in front of the confessional can clearly hear what's being confessed!
So, pray for me that I will have more grace and patience for my unusual fellow Christians who need to be frustratingly close to the confessional during the Sacrament and pray for those who feel the need to do it. All of that rant now being said, I will continue to avail myself of the Sacrament of Forgiveness as often as I can in the hopes of growing closer to God here on earth and someday seeing him face to face healed of my sin-sickened soul and body.
"Ask Jesus to make you a Saint. After all, only He can do that. Go to confession regularly and to Communion as often as you can."
- St. Dominic Savio