Acts 26: 20 On the contrary, first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached the need to repent and turn to God, and do works giving evidence of repentance.
I stood in line, quaking in my boots, and wondering what it would be like. I’d never done this before. Sure, I had all the information about how easy it would be. But now that I was actually in line, it didn’t seem real. Here I was, forty two years old and converting to Catholicism. And now I had to go to Confession if I wanted to complete the Easter Sacraments and be accepted into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Confession wasn’t a part of my Protestant background. In fact, I don’t recall hearing about it till I met my wife, a cradle Catholic. Then, when our two daughters were of age, they went to Confession. I hadn’t converted so I thought it was kind of silly. After all, I could talk directly to God, couldn’t I? Why did I need a priest to hear my sins? Yet there I was, waiting my turn.
During my formation in the RCIA program, I came to know that just as we sometimes confide in our friends, when we confide (confess) to our priest confessor, we are really confessing to God as the priest stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, our mediator. He also stands as the community. Through him, we receive the grace of God that can change our minds and hearts and put us on the right track. We no longer turn from God but to God and ask for the transformation of our lives so we will no longer live in thoughtlessness but will adopt a new set of values and resolve, that by His grace, we may live better lives. And when we do, we will know the love of God in Jesus Christ, and that if we sin, we not only break God’s law, we break God’s heart.
Whoa! It’s my turn. What do I say? What do I do? After all, God knows my sins already. Still, I need to acknowledge what I’ve done and ask for forgiveness. I’ll just let Him lead me through.
I never knew what a weight I was carrying in my sins until I celebrated my first reconciliation. It seemed like a ton was lifted off me and I had energy that I never knew. I could feel the presence of God deep inside me. I knew that my decision to convert was right and true. From then on I would do His will to make up for my sins. I knew that my real life was just beginning. Now each time I celebrate this wonderful Sacrament, I find that same joy and peace.
Why do we fear confiding our sins to a priest who can help us and yet tell our friends our deepest secrets? Are we afraid of God or are we afraid to change our life altogether and live for Him? Why don’t we want to partake in this life-giving sacrament? Do we trust God? Do we really trust God?
Catechism of the Catholic Faith Number 1422
“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance (Confession) obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are, at the same time reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example and by prayer labors for their conversion.”