Anyone else out there bad at Confession? Here’s what I mean…
While there’s no way I don’t rack up a pile of sins between confessional visits, I find myself wracking my brain to remember them when I’m standing on that confessional line. Even with a printed examination of conscience.
I don’t know if it’s because I have a very forgiving nature, a chronic lack of self-awareness, or because I genuinely don’t pay much attention one minute to the next, but I tend to draw a blank when I hold that mental mirror up to myself.
Sure, I can come up with general areas of sin, but I haven’t had an old-fashioned “number and kind” in-the-box experience since the sisters used to bring us over to church for First Friday confessions in grade school (I'll leave it up to you to guess how long ago THAT was).
Number and kind? Math was never my strong suit.
For a while, in my 20s & 30s when I spent some time in the famous Catholic cafeteria, my infrequent confessions were very much category-style…heavy on kind, short on number. When you’re indifferent about your behavior, who’s counting? I probably double and triple confessed a few of those over the years, as they came to mind, given that my poor memory for sin is coupled with a bit of a scrupulosity streak. It’s a fun combination.
These days, I’m far more by-the-book but still less than capable of locking down those sin memories for later retrieval. But I find that, even though I show up short on details, something usually comes out of my meandering self-appraisals. I just start talking and hope the Holy Spirit will shine some light in that corner of my mind that stores transgressions. Plus, I end every confession with a heartfelt, “For these and any sins I’m leaving out, I am heartily sorry” (or words to that effect).
That may sound like a cowardly cop out, but I do genuinely mean it. And even with my low-quality performance during the sacrament, I still get the incredible feeling that comes with hearing the words of absolution.
Hoping it sounds better than it does to me.
All I can do is laugh about my sacramental shortcomings and trust the Holy Spirit will never let me leave confession without having done right by the incredible gift that is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I summed all this up in a song much better than I have here, so I hope you’ll give it a listen or check out the lyric video—especially if you haven’t been to confession in a while because you think you have no idea what to say.
If that noted theologian, Woody Allen, was right and eighty percent of success is showing up, maybe that holds true for Confession, as well. Perhaps, the Lord just wants to hear from us, no matter how boring or clueless we think we sound.