Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.– Mahatma Ghandi
When I was in high school I considered becoming a nun. Converting to Catholicism and dedicating my life to God sans men seemed to be a healthy solution to my inability to carry on normal conversation with the opposite sex. I will spare you the numerous inappropriate reasons I was given by my peers to why this was a BAD idea.
The desire to be a nun left, but I still toyed with Catholic conversion. There was something about the sacraments, ritual, and reverence that I was drawn to. I had questions though, and I made serious inquiries to have those questions answered before I made a decision. After concluding my ‘research’ I determined that conversion was not for me. However, I still hold a deep affinity for the Catholic church and my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. (I own a rosary and pull it out occasionally.)
One of the sacraments that I am still drawn to is practice of Confession. The sacrament is actually Penance, but Catholics believe that they are to confess their sins to a priest and receive and perform “penance” for those sins. Their penance, determined by the priest, usually involves reflection upon their sin and ritualized prayers and/or performance of an act of grace for or to another person. Through this they are absolved from their sins.
This sacrament lays out one of the more clear cut delineations in dogma between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Protestants believe that penance is not necessary– “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8) and that Jesus his our high priest to who we confess. He is the “intercessor” (Heb. 7:25) an our “advocate” before the Father (I John 2:1). And I believe this with my whole heart– however, I also believe that many protestants have used this as an excuse to avoid accountability and become lazy in spiritual growth.
We need to confess– to someone. First to Christ, second to our Christian friends who will hold us accountable. It is healthy. It is good for the soul. In Donald Miller’s film, (
loosely based on the book) Blue Like Jazz, a confessional booth built on the campus of Reed College, started as an irreverent stunt, resulted in hundreds of students lining up to “confess” and get things off their chest.
Take a look at mental health industry today. The best estimate I can come up with (from lots of googling….) is that there are roughly half a million licensed counselors in the United States today. And going to “therapy” has become cool and hip, and what is the purpose? To sit down with an objective person who will not judge you and tell them how messed up you are and all the horrible things that you have done, are doing and have been done to you. This person will say, “how does this make you feel?” and empower you to keep on living despite all the junk.
It is nonconstructive confession. I longed for this once…. and my fear of judgement by a real live person kept me from seeking wise counsel and a person who would say, “CODY! Wake up! This is sin. Go and SIN NO MORE!”
That’s what we need to hear…. and need to be saying with love. Our fear of judgement is founded. We are ALL screwed up. Normal is relative and if I use my friends and family as a measuring stick, the world must be all about to crash….. That said, we need to be willing to share with our Christian brothers and sisters that junk. Not for the sake of airing our dirty laundry, but to have someone to weep with us, pray for us and move us forward, beyond the gross and a little closer to reflecting the light of Christ. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” How many times do we cry out to the Savior saying, “Help me beat this God….” “I don’t know why I keep messing up….” keeping our sin secret, struggling in silence. Wouldn’t you like to finally be healed? I would.
And as we confess our sins to one another, our response should be to confess Christ in return. We follow a Savior that died for us and bled crimson all over our mess so that we may someday wear robes of white. So, find yourself a confessor, and open your heart to healing.
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin, all hope consists in confession; in confession there is a chance for mercy. — St. Isidore of Seville