Father Z gives us an excellent fervorino on the importance of doing penance and going to Confession. It also includes good reflections on Purgatory and Hell.  These are things of which even the most practicing of Catholics need frequent reminding.  We can never have these things too much at the front of our minds.  (Off-topic note:  Internet Explorer is having trouble loading some blogs out there, including Father Z’s.  Firefox works, however, and I highly recommend it.)

I went to Confession myself the evening before last.  You know, it’s something that is always new.  Even though I generally go every 2 weeks, and often have the same “laundry list” of things to confess… every time feels like the first time.  Receiving absolution is always something new, wondrous, miraculous.  It never gets old.  It can never be received half-heartedly.  It still makes me weep.  The love and mercy of God are still overwhelming.  And the ways in which Confession builds up and sharpens my conscience is pretty amazing too.  It really makes me look at myself and my life and my relationship with God in new, deeper, clearer, more honest ways–it makes me more sane.

Just to be clear: when I say I have a “laundry list,” that is not to imply that there is anything rote or indifferent about my confessions.  I think and pray very long and hard before Confession about what I’ve been doing or not doing, how I’ve been relating or not relating with God and other people, what effect I’ve been having on the world around me.  For me, most of the work happens beforehand, and during the Sacrament itself, I tend to be very brief and to the point, and more focused on listening to the priest and receiving God’s grace.  I believe that is the proper way to go about this Sacrament. Especially at my parish, where Confession is well-attended and lines can be pretty long (definitely a blessing, not a bother)!

We are really blessed with wonderful confessors, too.  Somehow, they always know just what to say, what to ask, what penances to assign.  They always know how to get to the heart of matters, whether big or small, and they know how to handle and to heal human hearts.  This last confession of mine was a bit more in-depth than usual.  Father and I both needed to talk things over a little more than usual.  Sometimes, I have things going on that I might just shrug off or not consider really sinful.  Usually subtle things that slowly begin to bother and weigh down my conscience.  I don’t always know how to articulate them.  All I know is that they’re not good for me, they hurt others, and they are not what God wants for me or from me.  This is what has been going on recently for me.  It felt so good and so relieving to talk with Father about it.  He understood.  He didn’t think I was crazy or stupid.  And best of all, he gave me really wonderful advice and a really helpful and meaningful penance.

My confessor too gave me really important reminders:  God created each one of us, God loves loves us, God takes care of us.  We can put all our trust in Him.  We can put all of our cares, worries, and difficulties into His hands. We all need those reminders too.  If we didn’t, then we also probably wouldn’t need Confession!  But we do.  God knows how we are made, and what we need.  To deny or reject or avoid Confession is an insult to His love, mercy, wisdom, and providence.