I was stalling.
I drove to another parish (parish is a church community) for Confession after missing it at mine that day. I parked right outside the church with 30 minutes left until it ended. I couldn’t bring myself to walk through those doors though. I didn’t want to face Jesus in the Confessional; my pride was getting the best of me.
I called a friend who let me ramble while continually telling me to go in and pray; to ask God to calm the anxiety flowing within me. Anything to calm my nerves.
With 10 minutes left, she told me goodbye and I walked in towards a pew. I saw the light on in the Confessional and dove in a nearby pew. I sat there and asked God to bring the words to mind on what I wanted to say. I asked Him to help me make a clean Confession.
But here’s the thing; I didn’t know if I was even fully contrite. It’s one of those sins that you know is bad but your pride tries to justify it. For a good Confession, you have to mean it from the heart. And sitting in that pew I couldn’t bring myself to truly be sorry for it. I couldn’t think straight; I couldn’t process what exactly I wanted to confess. So, I left. And called another friend.
What resulted after, was me telling her this sin that I couldn’t quite bring myself to say before without skirting around it.
“I’m definitely going behind the screen,” I thought. I didn’t want the priest to see my face. Pride is a dangerous thing.
It wouldn’t be another 3 days until I made the effort to go to Confession. This time at my home church. The whole drive there I kept telling myself, “It’s okay. There’s always tomorrow.” I knew that it was the devil prompting those thoughts. I had plenty of time left; I was out of excuses.
When I pulled up to the church, I sat in my car and did an examination of conscience. After, I realized what areas in my life I needed to work on and prayed for courage. Taking a deep breath, I got out of my car and walked into the church.
I was stalling. Again.
I awkwardly half bowed/half genuflected in-front of the altar before bolting into a pew a few feet from the line for Confession.
Kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, I asked Him for strength. To help me set aside my pride and focus on Him. And for clarification on what I was supposed to do next in my life.
I heard the words, “It’s okay. I’m just around the corner. I want you to be in grace with me again. I love you.”
Making the sign of the cross and fighting the butterflies in my stomach, I genuflected out of the pew and joined the others in line.
There were four people in front of me and I was still making excuses in my mind. I was reminded of a YouTube video of a scene where demons were leading people away from the Confessional. I wasn’t going to let the evil one win.
My friend’s words popped into my head at that moment: “It’s weird to say, but they have heard it before plus more, so don’t worry!”
And it’s true. There’s nothing that you could say that a priest has not heard before. After speaking to some priests in the past, they don’t even remember people’s Confessions after!
The door opened to the Confessional and the last person walked out. I took a deep breath and walked in...and chose the screen this time. (In Confession, you can either go behind the screen or face-to-face. No matter what, the Seal of the Confessional is in place. What you confess stays in that room. And if the priest breaks that seal, he’s excommunicated from the Church.)
When I was done confessing my sins and finished saying the Act of Contrition, I heard the words.
"I absolve you from your sins."
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
As I knelt down in a pew after to say my penance, I let my eyes rest on Him. Gazing at the crucifix above the altar, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace looking into the face of Jesus.
As we enter into this season of Advent, let us prepare the way of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Repent, seek and pray.
"When we have become deeply aware of our sin, we know that we can cling to nothing in ourselves, that everything we offer is, to some degree, tainted and impure. We can't show our cultural, professional, and personal accomplishments to God as though they are enough to save us. But the moment we realize that fact, we move into the Advent spirit, desperately craving a savior." - Bishop Robert Barron