A worthy project recently made headlines in my feed reader. It is called The Penance Project. Its sole mission is simple: “To promote the grace and healing provided by God through the Sacrament of Penance to all.”
Mark Shea, a Seattle archdiocese parishioner, & blogger, posted a wonderful article today titled Rediscovering the riches of reconciliation. He writes:
Indeed, coming to the Catholic Church with my burden of guilt and discovering for the first time what was being offered in the Sacrament of Penance, I could scarcely believe something so wonderful could be true. You go into a little room, pour out your guts as you’ve longed to do and purge yourself of all the shame, sin and pain you’ve been lugging around like a lead weight for all those years — and when it’s all over you don’t get a lecture on what a jerk you are, or shocked silence (these priests have, after all, heard it all before a zillion times). No, you get gentle counsel, accepting love, a tissue, if necessary, and words of absolution, spoken by Jesus Christ himself in the person of the priest. Then you walk out of there, not only with your sins thrown as far away as the east is from the west, but with grace to be a completely new creation! You’re a new man! And it doesn’t even cost anything!
Even as a cradle Catholic, this rings true for me in a profound way. I know that I am a terrible sinner, or rather, that I am a terrific sinner, but a terrible man. God created me good, and then I went and messed that up. And truth be told, I don’t like to dwell on that. My sins are a source of shame and embarrassment. But when I go to confession, I know, and I mean I absolutely know that after the words of absolution are offered, my sins are forgiven. No other relationship I have offers that assurance. My best friends, my closest family, the people I admire most – there is always a question in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe, they’re still harboring a little bit of resentment, anger, bitterness. Not with Jesus. Either He forgives me or He doesn’t. And He always does!
I know that Mark Shea & I are not alone in this. There is an excellent page at Our Sunday Visitor – Confession testimonials – where people are responding to Shea’s article with their own stories. Read them, and consider making your own confession – and perhaps discover the reason why people find reconciliation worth the effort, even when its hard.
your brother in Christ,
Mark Shea also posted another article that has been making the rounds across the internet for a couple days now. It is titled In Which We Deal With a Delicate Subject, and is a gentle discussion on the subject of masturbation. As one of the mortal sins that so many are addicted to – and one that equally many find themselves too embarrassed to confess – I heartily recommend Mark’s treatment of the matter.