How long has it been since your last Confession? Hopefully you remember how long it has been. I will admit confessing one’s sins to a priest isn’t always the funnest thing in the world. Sometimes there are some big sins to confess. It is easy to let the sins accumulate on our soul before we confess them. I think the even greater temptation in this age is to not confess our sins at all. Some people truly have much anxiety over this. I have never met a priest who hated hearing confessions. It is almost universally agreed by priests that it a humbling act to hear people’s confessions of sins. It is my belief that the ability to confess my sins to a priest is one of the greatest gifts in my life. I will also admit I did not always hold this belief.
At the age of my First Communion I had to make my First Confession. I was absolutely anxious and mortified. I was afraid the priest would get mad or be disappointed in me. I came into the confessional for that first Confession and immediately began sobbing as if I had just been caught in the act of all those sins. Now that I sit on the other side of the confessional I know what that priest felt. He wasn’t angry or even disappointed with me. He was happy that I was sorry for my sins, that I shed tears for my sins, and he was more than happy to be the instrument of God’s forgiveness. I made it through that Confession but I would not go again until about 12 years later when I was in college!
On my second Confession 12 years later I cried again. I didn’t cry tears of fear and sorrow. I cried because I was holding onto some big sins all these years. I hadn’t realized how they had weighed me down. I had forgotten the weight of those sins. I had become comfortable with them that for a great part of that time in between Confessions I was in a state of mortal sin. So my tears at this second Confession were not tears of anxiety or fear. They were tears of joy that I would soon be forgiven and unburdened of those horrible sins.
Since that second Confession I have made it my personal mission to make a Confession at least twice a month. In seminary and when I was a young priest in OKC this was easy. When I was in Alva and Altus it was a bit more difficult as I was the only priest for two counties. So I usually ended up driving to Enid or to Lawton for dinner with a brother priest. In those four combined years in Alva and Altus I drove countless miles just to go to Confession and then hang out with a brother priest. What I love about regular Confession is that when I confess my sins to a priest and receive absolution I know the Lord is forgiving me. After 19 years of making regular – sometimes weekly Confessions – I have come to hate even small sins piling up on my soul. I’m not saying I’m a walking saint! I’m saying I’ve discovered the beauty of a soul once again brought back to the moment after Baptism. I’ve discovered the joy our Lord takes when I walk into the Confessional to confess even the same sins over and over again. What a great gift of our God! -Fr. W.