Heartfelt Confession – whispering in the ear of Christ
Man, I have 1,000 great Confession stories for you, but one particularly comes to mind. Now, I won’t waste your time by telling you all that I did or didn’t do to get to that confessional kneeler. That’s not my main point here. But I will call your attention to the metallic, creaking sound of the door as I stepped into the main foyer of the church. You know the sound. Those rusty hinges needed attention. And so did my soul.
I walked into this sacrament feeling pretty corroded. I had been overworked, overstressed, and downright disgusted with my sin. As I confessed my sins, the priest sometimes seemed to be lost in prayer. At other times he would stop to ask a question, or offer an understanding nod. There was no judgment in his eyes. Just compassion. He listened. Patiently. He offered counsel, directed me to key scripture passages, and reminded me of the faith that I profess. And then, absolution. Such a great word. Such a great gift.
It was a simple, ordinary confessional experience, and yet when I re-entered the world via that same rusty door, I felt extraordinary. Clean. Forgiven. Restored. New. Like a well-oiled spiritual machine. Confession puts everything in its right place. I am a sinner. I’ve given my heart and soul to Christ, but I’m still a man battling my pride and sinfulness. …
It’s hard for me to admit my sins. To the man in the mirror. To God. And sometimes to a trusted priest. But one thing comes to mind that I always say to my kids – sometimes the best things in life are the hardest things in life. Walk with me for a minute into the pages of the Bible. Let me set the stage. Jesus was about to appear to his apostles after His resurrection. Yet the very ones who were closest to Christ were hiding from the world behind a locked door. They were afraid. Christ entered the room, breathed on them, and spoke these empowering words: Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.
…When you and I kneel in the confessional and repent of our sins, we are truly whispering in the ear of Christ. It’s Christ Himself who meets us in the confessional in the person of the priest. As He revealed to a simple Polish nun, St. Faustina (one of my favorite saints): When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. [from Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska]
Excerpt used by permission, from Parenting On Purpose: 7 Ways to Raise Terrific Christian Kids, by Jason Free (MercySong, 2018). www.mercysong.com. From chapter entitled “Sittin’ in a Catholic Pew,” section on “Confession,” pp. 147-150.
JASON FREE is a popular writer, speaker, and master of ceremonies at conferences and retreats. Former general manager of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA, he has taught marriage and family counseling at the graduate level, and has done extensive work with couples and families. He and his wife Colleen are proud parents of nine children.