If I'm being honest, reconciliation is the sacrament I struggled with the most while growing up. Maybe it’s because I always felt like the sacrament put my flaws and mistakes on display, while I spent most of my time trying to pretend they didn’t exist.
The confessional invites a certain level of vulnerability, and, frankly, that petrified me. So, I’d go in with my laundry list of generic sins, fluffing my way through my confessions once a year, pretending the deeper flaws didn’t exist.
It wasn’t until I shared my fears about reconciliation with a priest friend that I began to see the sacrament as something more than a place of judgment and shame. I secretly thought my sins would be so horrific, so shameful, that the priest would view me differently. My friend looked at me and said,
“You know, Erin, sin is boring. Everyone thinks his or her sins are going to shock the priest, but, the truth is, I’ve heard them all a thousand times by now. They’re boring, forgettable.” The truth about reconciliation is that when we bring our sins to the light, they become boring. We all sin; we all struggle; we all have flaws; but we only empower those parts of ourselves when we let them fester in the dark corners of our souls.
I finally realized my dread of reconciliation rooted itself in a deep misunderstanding about the reality of the sacrament. In
the confessional, we pour out our hearts to Christ himself. In “The Diary of St. Faustina,” Jesus reminds us, “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. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)
The sacrament of reconciliation affords us the opportunity to come face-to-face with our God, who is love and mercy itself. The confessional is not a place where the priest judges and condemns us. It’s the place where we are embraced by pure, unconditional love.
Christ came to make all things new, and that’s exactly what happens in the confessional.
About the Author:
Erin Hogan is a full-time Life Teen youth minister at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Cuyahoga Falls. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching Irish dance, studying for her master’s in theology and drinking copious amounts of coffee.