What Was I So Afraid of
Once upon a time, Reconciliation to me was the practice of entering into a little room to speak with a priest, whom you may or may not know, and dumping your laundry list of all those 'should have not' or 'should have but didn't'. The practice was so anxiety inducing, before I went in I was usually worried I was either going to pass out or puke. The whole process seemed ridiculous. If God was all knowing, why couldn't I simply bring this list and my Act of Contrition to the Big Guy themselves. What is the deal with the middle man?
What Changed My Mind
Jesus made me laugh. After I stopped laughing, I discovered something very important about the role of the priest in confession. But first the laugh....
What Were my Options
It was just a week into attending our new parish. I was super excited for confession that weekend - not that I wasn't still chicken (because I was) but I used to find it less frightening with a Priest who did not know me - anonymity was my friend!! I was first in line as this was one of my tricks for beating the fear. The confessional was a kneeling only, screen between us type. After closing the door behind me, I blessed myself and jumped right in. "Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been about 6 months since my last confession and here are my sins." Only a few into my list when the priest interjected, "excuse me are you the woman who has come to start the new youth group." Um, crap. I was. Now what?
I felt like I had 2 options --YES options. One, I could lie. Then start back my confession with, "I lied one time just now to you," or I could go the more sensible route, own up to the fact I have a very recognizable voice (I refuse to believe those screens don't actually hide my identity), and get on with it. However, that is not what happened. After I admitted to being the new middle school youth leader, he went into a 10 minute soliloquy on all fun and exiting ideas he had for us to explore. I finally got up the courage to interrupt and ask if we could return to the confession. He readily agreed and I continued with my list. [In case you are curious, yes a real list. I am a list person and often bring it into the confessional with me.]
Now I have been in the confessional for a good 15-20 minutes. I thanked Father for his time, reached for the door, opened the door, made eye contact with some of the now 10 or so people waiting and I hear, "Oh wait, One more thing!" WHAT, WAIT... WHAT?? Is he really calling me back in -- to confession? Unsure what to do, I sheepishly smiled at the waiting people, closed the door and knelt back down. I am FAIRLY sure half of those people waiting bolted for the door; I mean really WHO GETS called back into confession! Why take a chance at being the next called back in. The other half may have added to their confession, "and I judged, one time, that lady that just got recalled into the confessional!!"
It is Just a Conversation
This sweet man wanted to tell me about the marriage retreat he help facilitate and thought my husband and I would enjoy! Finally, after another 10 minutes, I was free to go and complete my penance. Much to my dismay, there was no back exit or trapdoor Father could drop me through -- sparing me from facing the people waiting for their turn. I have to admit the line was considerably shorter than when I first opened the door to leave - maybe because the confession time was running short. Though, I would not be surprised if some really had ran off in fear! If you are already a Confession Chicken, it really doesn't take much to get you to bolt!
I knelt to recite my penance and burst into laughter. Anyone looking at me from behind could have easily confused my attempts to muffle my giggles as full-on sobs. After composing myself, I looked up at Jesus on the cross. I was overcome with a new understanding of the many gifts the Sacrament of Reconciliation is. First, my time in Reconciliation truly is an encounter with Christ, it is nothing to fear, as it is a conversation with him. In addition, I also noted that Jesus obviously has an incredible sense of humor! Perhaps, my fear arose from my awareness that I had disappointed Christ. Of course, I wanted to avoid going to confession; who likes to admit they wronged someone especially to that person. There was no denying however the more I went, the closer to Christ I grew.
After this amazing albeit humorous encounter in confession, I was no longer a confession chicken. I also no longer see going as a chore to be feared but instead as the gift it truly is!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
READ MORE THOUGHTS ON CONFESSION