Advent Challenge – Day 14 – Repent!
I had the opportunity today to go to confession. Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is probably one of, if not the best, ways to prepare our hearts for Christ. The Church strongly encourages receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas, and as such, most parish priests make themselves more available to hear confessions in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Many parishes hold a penitential service where many priests are available for an extended time, or sometimes even a full day.
Going to confession is always a difficult thing to do. It’s hard to admit to ourselves that we don’t love God, or others well, and that we need Him. Even harder is saying those things out loud to someone else. If you haven’t been in awhile, I strongly encourage you to go. It never gets easier the longer you wait, and I’ve heard many priests say “there’s nothing you will say that can shock me!” If you prefer anonymity, many parishes still have the old school grille in between you and the priest, you can go to a different parish where you don’t know the priest, or go to a different priest who is present at a penitential service at your own church.
From personal experience though, I always find it much more beneficial to speak to a priest who knows me. First of all, it does a huge number on your pride, as well as helping increase your trust in God. I can also testify to the fact that no priest has ever brought up anything I’ve mentioned in the past, nor do they even remember. When a priest knows you, and knows how you personally are living your faith, and your struggles, he is better able to give you advice on how to overcome those temptations in your life that make you fall over and over again.
A lot of people worry that since they haven’t been in awhile, they don’t know the proper formula to make a confession. Don’t worry about it. I’ve been going to confession regularly since I was a child, and I still forget the prayers or the “right way of doing things”. I perpetually forget the Act of Contrition, “O my God I am heartily sorry….”, but as a child, my priest taught me that I could simply say “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner”, and that is the one I use most of the time.
Prior to going, it’s important to make a good examination of your conscience. There are a lot of resources online you can use. Here is a relatively simple Examination, which I find good for those who haven’t been in a long time, or don’t go very frequently. I also have a longer, more in-depth one that I like to use, but it can be a bit daunting to those returning after a long absence, or going the first time, so I only recommend it for those who routinely make a frequent confession.
It can be difficult to convince ourselves to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but keep in mind that Jesus’ Love and Mercy is on the other end of it.
What else we did for Advent today: