accepting grace of confession

Why, oh why, do I procrastinate on the most important things, things like confession?

It’s not like I don’t know better. I once took my spiritual director’s advice and went through a stretch of going to confession once a month. I remember how, though life wasn’t any easier, it was more intentional in many ways.

My last visit to confession, though, began like this: “Father, it’s been–no, wait! Really?!? SEVEN MONTHS? Since my last confession.”

Seven months was far too long for me to wait. No, I hadn’t killed anyone. (Yet.) But even so, I could feel the weight the weight of all those small sins and the addition of all those small steps away from God’s grace. I was carrying a heavy load that I didn’t even notice until it was gone.

My penance that day was as ironic as it was suitable. Father gave it to me with a smile.

“Your penance is to teach RCIA tonight.”

“Awww, come on, Father! I was already going to teach RCIA tonight!”

“And the topic will be…confession.”

We both laughed. I’m still laughing.

I suspect that this sort of thing happens so much more easily when you have an ongoing relationship with your confessor, when he knows you individually.

I’ve noticed something as a catechist in my parish and a Catholic adult.

Kids have a far better feel for confession that we do. They believe me when I share my encouragement that they go to confession often and soon. You only need to go to one youth event and see the lines of teens to see evidence.

So why don’t the adults tend to act on this knowledge with the trust that the youth do?

In my own life, it comes down to a combination of laziness and pride. I have to make the time to go. I have to arrange my schedule and figure out how and when and where. Then I have to humble myself enough to accept that the priest has (a) heard worse than what I’m bringing, no matter how bad I think I’m dealing and (b) receives his own set of graces to forget and act as Jesus.

When’s the last time you were at confession? When’s the last time you went to meet Jesus with the spirit of humility and gave him the burden of your sins?

Go. Soon. Lent is coming, and you’ll appreciate the Resurrection so much more deeply with a  freshly cleaned soul!

This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.