Wow, I finally experienced my first reconciliation, also called “first confession” by many! Of all the portions of the Catholic RCIA process, this was the thing about which I was most nervous. Having to articulate — and thus face up to — all the wrong you have done in your life is not an easy task!
I love the idea of reconciliation, however. It forces you to regularly look your faults directly in the eye. There’s no hiding them shamefully in the back of your mind hoping you’ll forget them. That is not the path to self-improvement. If we want to become saints, or even just better versions of ourselves, we have got to start by discerning our flaws, acknowledging them and then addressing them. If you keep confessing the same sins over and over, that’s a sure place to start 🙂 on self-improvement.
I’ve been doing the Weight Watchers weight loss program over the last several years where I’m allotted so many points each day and week of food that I can eat. I find it greatly helps me resist an unhealthy choice because I stop and think “do I really want to waste 14 points on that?!!”
I feel like reconciliation gives me that same ability to resist. Since I did my first reconciliation, I stop myself when I start to do something wrong, as I can hardly stand to stain what has become so clean!
Reconciliation is an amazing gift for self-improvement and how wonderful that we are able to be forgiven of everything we have done wrong so long as we are truly sorry! It feels so joyful!
If you are nervous about reconciliation, here are a few tips that helped me for my first reconciliation through RCIA:
- Make a list, but destroy it as soon as you’re done. I found I was so nervous I could hardly think and having the words in front of gave me the courage to just plow ahead!
- Decide beforehand if you want to be face-to-face with the priest. Ultimately, I decided not to and I think that was a good call for the first time. Having to look someone in the eye while confessing your worst faults would have made me completely lose my train of thought I think.
- Relax. The priest is there to hear you, forgive you and nothing more. There is no judgement. Remember, he’s heard it all before!
- Don’t engage in a discussion. Just list out your sins, say your Act of Contrition and move on. Set up an appointment with the priest if you want to have a discussion.
- Go regularly! I already strongly desire to go back so I can wipe the slate clean again. Again, I think this is such an amazing healing gift.
Do those of you experienced Catholics have any advice on reconciliation. What has helped you?