The Grace of Confession

Once as a child, I was sick on my birthday. Cards that were sent from my extended family were brought to me, and one unopened one got mixed with the empty envelopes. It was discovered only as they were being torn in two before being thrown away. I was very happy that it was noticed, as it contained a five-dollar bill. While five dollars might not mean as much now, to a young child many years ago, I was upset that it could have been trashed.

The sacrament of confession is a lot like those birthday cards, it is the delivery method of something special, the grace of God. I think that gets forgotten by many Catholics. Often they go before Christmas and Easter because they think that’s when they are supposed to go. Maybe they don’t go at all if it’s not convenient. But that’s just like throwing the gift of God’s grace away.

No one is perfect, God knows that, so he gave us the wonderful sacrament of healing. Confession is work; one must prepare by examining all they have thought, said, done, or failed to do. But the fruit of that labor is not just to apologize to God and ask for His forgiveness, but to seek to avoid those sins that are confessed. It can be frustrating to confess the same sin time after time, but each time we receive the grace to help avoid that sin either for a longer time or lessen the impact when we do commit it. While it may seem that we’re not making progress, we are actually being “spiritually strengthened” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1496) and should take comfort and peace that we have been reconciled with God and the Church.

In my parish, there is a priest available each week, however according to the Catechism, priests  “must make themselves available to celebrate this sacrament each time Christians reasonably ask for it” (CCC 1464). While confession is needed for someone who has committed a mortal sin in order to participate in the other sacraments, the graces are available to all as often as they celebrate this sacrament. And to be healed by God is something to celebrate!

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