I have a confession.....I really don't like Confession.
As I was driving today my thoughts went to our church mission. (Many Catholic churches have what they call missions during Lent. The mission usually involves a visiting priest who gives inspiring, thought provoking and spirit renewing talks on several nights during one week in Lent). I went on Monday night and really enjoyed the talk. I was thinking about going again tonight and then I remembered something being mentioned on Monday about a Penance service in addition to the talk on Wed. night. My immediate reaction was...."hmmm, maybe I won't go". Instead of thinking ....."great, what a good opportunity to cleanse my battered soul", I thought, "run the opposite direction!" This has been my reaction to Penance, Reconciliation, Confession....call it what you like, since about the 2nd or 3rd grade. See? I told you it was my confession.
I went to a Catholic grammar school and we were required to go to Confession every Friday ( maybe it was once a month but it seemed like EVERY Friday to me). For some reason I could never remember the words you were supposed to say as an introduction or the prayers you were supposed to say. I remember distinctly going into the haunting confessional box and stuttering and fumbling with the words and being told by the grouchy old priest to go back out and not come back in until I knew the words. Well.....that was it, I was permanently traumatized. This is aside from the fact that every Friday I had to come up with my list of sins and they sounded like a broken record to me; I lied, I disobeyed my parents, I was mean to my brother and sisters.....nothing too serious, after all, I was 7!
As an adult, I know I should get over this. I've talked to priests about my fear and trepidation over Confession. One particularly kind priest friend heard my story and told me he would be happy to hear my Confession as we walked outside at a school retreat (I was an adult chaperone) and it didn't matter if I knew the right words or the right prayers, that he would say it all with me and it would be just fine. What a kind man! That should have cured me!
I still find myself with what I consider a trite list of sins which makes me think I am in need of some serious self examination. Believe me, it is not that I am so virtuous, probably the opposite. I was thinking about this post and did a little research. This site is eye opening and worth thinking about, I especially find the chart with the virtues and vices interesting, and the descriptions of the seven deadly sins is good self examination material. It also makes me think if I do go to Confession tonight that I might be in there for a LONG time! I need to change my focus and look at this as an opportunity to lighten the load and take it as the gift it is meant to be, instead of the torture I have made it to be all these years. Maybe this post is just one small step towards that end.