Rituals, Spiritual Direction

My Love-Hate Relationship With the Sacrament of Confession

This is the time of year for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic Church. In Advent and Lent, people are encouraged to return to God and enter into a deeper, more intimate relationship. It is time to resolve whatever is blocking you from LOVE.

I often dread going to Confession and keep putting it off. Even if I can get myself to the church on time, it is like my legs are made of lead and I can barely walk through the confessional door. I do not know why I dread it, as I always feel so much better after I do it. I guess for me it is a little like going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning. The dread of going is always worse than the actual process and afterwards I can’t stop smiling!

If you dread it as much as I do, let me tell you a story about one of my experiences with the sacrament. It is by remembering these experiences that I am encouraged to return again and again, and so maybe it will be for you as well.

On this particular Lent, I went to a Reconciliation Service where you could choose from many different priests. I feel better going with a group of people where we all pray and sing songs together first to prepare our hearts. I sometimes trick myself into going to church by saying, “I will just stay for the service and then leave if the lines for confession are too long.” On this day, of course, the lines were not too long. God clearly wanted to receive me and bless me.

Preferring to sit with the priest face to face, I looked into the warm wrinkly eyes of my pastor. He greeted me with a warm smile, hands folded in his lap. After he asked what I would like to share, he leaned toward me and tilted his ear my way. It was probably as much for being hard of hearing as it was to turn his gaze away from me in order to make me more comfortable. I launched into the shame I had been feeling for how I had treated people, the mistakes I made at work, and my anxiety that there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t change. When I finished, he paused, eyes closed, and then cleared his throat. “I’m getting an image of a hairball, ” he chuckled. He appeared baffled yet guided to share. I immediately launched into tears. You see, I had had a healing experience in a Spiritual Direction session a few months earlier with the image of a hairball that he knew nothing about. I had been naming the anxiety in my gut as feeling like a giant hairball. When my Spiritual Director had asked me to hand the hairball to Jesus, Jesus had amazed me. I thought he would have to burn it to take away all that was wrong in me. But instead, he had transformed it, not destroyed it, transformed it into a rose! The reminder of that beautiful moment during my confession actually made me laugh. The Holy Spirit was reminding me that all things can be made new and that there is no fault in me. Even my sin and shame can be turned into something beautiful.

You just never know how God will speak to you, heal you, or even make you laugh when you enter in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The one thing that you can be sure is that God will meet you where you are and lift the burden of what you have been carrying if you allow it.

It was a reminder that we cannot rely on small and created things, for our resting place is in God.  We exist because of God’s love, and because God will never stop loving us, we will live forever.  God is Love, and Love is working all things for our good. 

About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and learnings with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.

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