The joy of reconciliation

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Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh listens to confession from a young woman during a rally for life and youth Mass in Washington in January 2010. Photo: CNS/Bob Roller
Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh listens to confession from a young woman during a rally for life and youth Mass in Washington in January 2010. Photo: CNS/Bob Roller

I recently began going to reconciliation once a month, after not going at all since before Isaac was born, and immediately remembered why I used to go more regularly. It is so good!

It is so good to be able to physically go to God in the confessional and heap upon him all the areas where I want to change and haven’t been able to on my own. To lay out the stale and rotten little habits which have tripped me up and ask for forgiveness and the grace to do better next time.

And then to wake up the next day and remind myself that I am back on my default setting now and all I need to do is to stay close to Jesus. I don’t do this part so well obviously, since before long I’m slipping back to old habits. I forget to be mindful of God’s presence bolstering me throughout my days.

Mostly at issue is the way I treat my husband and children, because I am with them most of the time every day.

I could probably do with reconciliation on a weekly basis, not because I am so good but precisely because I’m not.

My sins may not make headlines on Twitter or in the newspapers, but they still are serious since they detract from the fullness of life that God wants me and the people around me to enjoy.

I often forget to trust that Jesus seriously wants and will help me to be a better, kinder, wiser, and happier woman. My business is primarily not to perfect the work of a wife, or mother, or contributor to society, but to perfect my virtues and eliminate the vices so that the life of Christ within me may flow out to others.

I don’t see how this can be done without the sacrament. Sheer willpower could never be enough.

Pontiff Emeritus Benedict wrote about it: “Those … who recognise that they are weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and obtain from him grace and forgiveness. It is precisely this message that must be transmitted: what counts most is to make people understand that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, whatever the sin committed, if it is humbly recognised and the person involved turns with trust to the priest-confessor, he or she never fails to experience the soothing joy of God’s forgiveness.”

Providentially, I’ve also been listening to talks given by Fr Emmerich Vogt OP who is visiting Sydney.

His practical approach to growing in the Christian life, which incorporates insights from psychology, has helped show me exactly what I need to bring to reconciliation.

As St Teresa of Avila taught, it is both humility and self-knowledge which we need in order to grow humanly and spiritually. And the outcome – peace and joy!