I write and talk pretty often about Confession and what a tremendous blessing it is to me. I’ve come in contact with quite a few people who experience great difficulty with going to Confession. So I thought I would try to address such difficulties.
The most common difficulty seems to be shame. “I’m too ashamed to go to Confession!” I would say that if you are ashamed of having sinned, it’s a good sign! It means your conscience is functioning properly. You are probably feeling very drawn to go to Confession–you know it’s the right thing to do. You probably know that it will restore you to the peace and love that can only come from being in a good relationship with God. But how to get past the shame or other anxieties?
Here are two things that have always helped me:
1. Examine your conscience and pray the Act of Contrition every day. At the end of each day, look back over the day and think about whether there were ways in which you may have rejected God, and/or ways in which you might have hurt or neglected another person. If so, then take responsibility for them–that is the first step toward repentance and reconciliation. And pray an Act of Contrition. We know this prayer as being part of the Confession rite itself, but we should be praying it every day! Here is the version I use:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
Note the last sentence: you are resolving, with God’s help, to confess your sins. Do you think God will ignore such a prayer, or refuse His help? Praying this prayer each day will help you get to Confession and overcome any obstacles you encounter. God Himself will bring you!
2. Pray to St. Michael and your guardian angel. There is only one person in this entire universe who has anything to gain by your not going to Confession, and that is Satan. He and his demons will do whatever they can to keep you away from the confessional. But God has given us very special helpers for dealing with demons–remember the holy angels, and call upon them! Ask them to be your escorts and keep those evil angels at bay. The holy angels are mighty and powerful, and they know better than any other creature how to deal with demons!
Do both of these things each day, and before long, you’ll not be able to restrain yourself from the Sacrament! Or, at the very least, they will help clear your path and get you moving in the right direction.
Will you still have jitters or bothersome feelings about going to Confession? Yes, you most likely will. I generally still get nerves about going to Confession, even though I go pretty frequently. But it doesn’t matter–it simply doesn’t matter. It has no power over me any more. And it will lose its power over you, too. All the feelings that may seem so huge and powerful now will soon shrink to their actual size–to practically nothing! That’s because you will have your eyes set on something much better and much more important–reconciliation with your Heavenly Father!
I do hope these brief thoughts are helpful. Remember: I love Confession, and I love talking about it, so, if you have any other Confession-related questions or concerns you’d like my take on, please let me know! :)