Confession is a scary word to most Catholic RCIA candidates. It looms in the distance as the big hurdle you must cross before joining the Church. Truth be told, I was more nervous about this sacrament than any other part of joining the Church. I was sweaty, nauseous and nervous as all get out. I suspect I’m not alone in my trepidation. It’s not that I didn’t welcome confession/reconciliation — I thought it was a wonderful opportunity — it was just the “doing” it that had me shaking!
But, Catholic newbies and RCIA candidates, I want you to know something about confession that you won’t understand until you experience it several times. Reconciliation is about forgiveness but it’s about a LOT more, too.
After I went to confession a time or two, I noticed that not only did I feel relief at being forgiven, but it seemed the very things I was struggling with sometimes just completely went away! So, for example, if it was custody of the tongue that was an issue, suddenly the temptation to say what I shouldn’t just up and vanished or I gained an improved ability to control it. I didn’t know quite how to explain or put into words exactly what was going on, but I new that confession brought me a benefit beyond forgiveness.
In reading Vinny Flynn’s “7 Secrets of Confession” recently (a great book for newbies, by the way, to help you fully understand the sacrament), I realized what I was experiencing. It was “healing”! He beautifully puts into words the amazing power of the sacrament of Reconciliation. It IS forgiveness, but Christ already “took away” our sins when He died on the Cross. We are reaching into time and accepting that “taking away” that he has already given for all sins that have been or will be committed. But because the priest acts AS Christ, we also encounter Jesus here just as we do in the Eucharist in the form of bread. It’s one of TWO opportunities to encounter the living Christ. And when we meet him with true repentance he heals us.
So that’s what I want you newbies to know — it’s also about HEALING. When you go to that first confession, yes, you can unload all of the things you’re sorry for and breathe a big sigh or relief that you’ve been forgiven. But expect MORE! You will be healed, too, and our Lord will help you overcome your temptations going forward.
So don’t go just one time to complete this step on the road to becoming Catholic. Make it a habit to go at least monthly. Why would you want to pass up the opportunity to meet Jesus and gain strength in overcoming temptation?
Newbies, I want to hear your worries and anxieties or excitement as you get ready to experience this sacrament! I’m happy to help answer any questions you have as someone who did this just one year ago. Experienced Catholics, please share this post with any RCIA candidates you know and lets show them the power of Reconciliation!
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