Hospital for Sinners
It's no secret that I love the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don't love the feelings of anxiety while waiting in line, but I love what it does for me personally, physically, and psychologically.
There's something heavy about carrying around the guilt and shame that comes with sin. I'm embarrassed when I don't live up to the standards that I know I can meet. I'm filled with guilt when I knowingly choose to do the wrong thing. I feel trapped under the secrecy that sin insists upon.
I think in some way, we all know that trapped feeling. We have a vision of ourselves, the self that we hope the world sees, and it's a tremendous burden to continue to project that vision while knowing full well how far short we fall.
Confession just might be the Church's least popular Sacrament. We're only required to go once per year and honestly, that's just not enough. I can't make it more than a month without going. In some sense, I'm a bit addicted to fresh starts.
Confession isn't just about us admitting what we've done wrong. It's a brilliant chance for us to ponder God's greatness and be inspired to start moving in that direction. Most people will commit variations of the same sin repeatedly over the course of their lives. We have particular weaknesses in some areas and strengths in others that end up comprising our sin profile. From time to time, you'll ask yourself how (and why) God continues to forgive you for making the same dumb mistakes.
That's the magic moment. When you ask that question, you gain a small insight into the mind of God. He is so much greater than us that He's able to continue to offer forgiveness and mercy, even though He knows how long your road to recovery will be. Then, you gain a second insight. He is so deeply in love with you. You're His creation and His child, and He's willing to do anything to save you from a life of sadness so that you can live a life of joy.
Confession isn't about punishment and vindication. If it was, the Church would have to close the books on it because no one would survive true justice. We don't go looking for justice, we go seeking mercy. Confession is about healing, about reconciliation. It's about us naming our sins out loud and remembering where we are in relationship with God.
It's through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that the Church lives Her mission as a hospital for sinners. Only She has the authority to heal sin, hurts, and division, in a mission assigned to the founders of the Church, the Apostles (Matthew 16:19).
And it's a hospital that we need.