In preparation for our mission, which will start November 2nd and continue until November 5th, I continue to reflect on the great gift of the sacraments. Specifically, confession is our greatest aid towards healing of our sins.
We can recall in the book of Genesis of the first sin committed by our race. In the beginning, Adam and Eve would walk with God in the Garden of Eden. They enjoyed his presence and all was open. Then, in secret, the tempter proposed to them an act of prideful disobedience. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.
This story is allegorical of course. Yet, it is a story that teaches us a few very important facts. At some point, our ancestors disobeyed in a very serious way that the whole human race was plunged into suffering and death.
Also, shame, secrecy, and hiding accompanied this disobedience. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they fled. They hid from each other and from God.
This tendency seems to accompany us whenever we sin. We want to keep them secret. Sometimes we even keep them secret from ourselves. Indeed, neither Adam nor Eve were willing to acknowledge their fault. Instead, they blamed someone else.
There is a saying: “you’re only as sick as your secrets.”
When we keep our sins secret, they behave like battery acid. They sit on the surface of our soul. It would seem tolerable at first…even harmless. Yet, over time the acid eats away at our soul, our joy, our peace, and our serenity. In this way, our sins become far more destructive then they were when we first committed them.
The shame hurts us and distorts our vision of ourselves. We tend to beat ourselves up over our sins. Or worse, we simply get so used to them that we no longer feel any shame, guilt or remorse (a lot of self-help and psychology books suggest this as a solution!)
The Lord knows the pain and the curse of sins kept in secret. So he gave us the sacrament of confession and set aside human beings to be his ears and his heart…the ordained priests. Confession is that place where God searches for us and asks, “where are you?” just as he did in the book of Genesis.
It is the place where the grace of Jesus Christ washes away the acid of secret sins. It is the place where shame is conquered by grace. And perhaps the most unique advantage of confession is that we get to be ourselves, good and bad, and we experience the loving and accepting company of a fellow Christian, whose unique role is to hold that conversation in strict confidence, listen to us with a loving heart, and help us as we continue to do our best to change our behaviors.
Our mission coming up in November (2-5), will include some time for confession. Get ready for it now, especially if you haven’t done it for a long time. Remember that you are as sick as your secrets and as healthy as your confessions.