AN ARTICLE FROM OUR SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE SERIES By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.
You can sign up for the entire Free Series here
Previously we treated of the necessity of having a right attitude towards that tribunal of mercy we call Confession. Perhaps it might be well to repeat here that if the Sacrament of Penance made God appear as an exacting tyrant, it would be out of place in Christ's "Gospel of Mercy." It appears as such only to the poorly instructed or the unreasonably fearful.
Here, we consider some of the more common fears concerning this sacrament. Some of them may seem rather insignificant to our readers, but they loom large indeed in the minds of others. These fears may plague the souls of even the more intelligent and well-instructed.
Many people are afraid of what the priest will think of them after they have relieved their consciences of their burden of guilt. Let us remind these that they have the freedom of going to any priest they select. They go in secret and the confessional is dark. The priest rarely recognizes them or their voices. All he really thinks is that another sincere and humble penitent has come in contact with the merciful Heart of our Blessed Savior.
Surprisingly, some stay away from confession because they feel they have too little to confess, just as others do because they have too much. These should know that the priest is neither shocked by grave sins, nor disappointed when there are none to mention. Even though your confession may sound like a broken record, you may avail yourselves of the many graces of this sacrament.
There are those who are afraid that the priest will not understand their particular problem -- especially if it involves some shameful sin. This is complimentary neither to the priest's training nor experience. The confessor is not only trained in theology and the laws of God; he is also well aware of every weakness of the human heart. He is trained to be kindly and understanding, and shortly becomes skilled in handling every possible case.
Some are fearful for the simple reason that their last good confession was much too long ago, and their sins are much too numerous (ed. note: such was the case with me at one point. That is why I find this article so important to spread!).
Let these be reassured that every priest shares the joy of Christ who said that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner doing penance than over ninety-nine who have no need of it. Don't be afraid to challenge His patience and compassion. He'll appreciate the opportunity to reconcile you to your God.
Even if you hardly know where to start, just enter the confessional and start talking. You should examine your conscience and stir up your sorrow, of course. But if you get confused, don't let it scare you away from this Sacrament of mercy and relief... just go into the confessional and ask for help. That's what the priest is there for.
Occasionally, we find those who are afraid of taking too much time -- perhaps those in line will think that they are big sinners. Well, the amount of time in the confessional is never a gauge of the amount of sins confessed. Perhaps the confessor may be encouraging the penitent to lead an even more generous life, or explaining means of growing in the love of God.
What should be done for those who constantly worry about their confessions? These must remember that confession was never intended to be a straining, worrying affair. All theologians teach that only a sincere effort is needed for a good confession, not a super-effort. God doesn't want us to scour our consciences like an overwashed floor.
Our Lord considers it very uncomplimentary to His Mercy to put any human limits upon a mercy that knows no limits.
Probably the most common complaint is that many feel as though they haven't made a good confession. They say that they don't experience any perceptible feeling of relief. We remind these that this is a question of faith, and not of feeling. We go to confession to have our sins forgiven, to expose ourselves to the mercy of Christ, to receive the sacramental graces, and not to feel good! If you have done your best, you have received all of these spiritual benefits, regardless of your feelings.
Once again, Confession is an encounter with the merciful and compassionate Savior, through His representative, the priest. Let us be careful not to make a bugbear of what He intends to be a balm!
Love and Blessings, Wendy C.
"Healing Mind, Body & Soul"
( PS...Please, come join me daily over at: https://www.facebook.com/MomOf13 I love interacting with everyone!)
(PPS...Before you go..don't forget to sign up for our FREE CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE SERIES!
Guidance by our friend the late Fr. Kilian McGowan. Head over here for a life changing experience...our gift!