Full disclosure here: I haven’t yet gone to confession this advent. So this post is as much for me as it is for you.
I can come up with a million reasons why I DON’T need to go to confession this advent. To name just a few:
- I’m not conscious of any grave sin I’ve committed.
- Having a two-month old makes it difficult sometimes to get out of the house
- I missed the parish’s advent penance service
- I’d rather go to the movies or Christmas shopping on a Saturday afternoon than to confession
- I think I’ve “been pretty good,” and have trouble thinking of any sins I’ve committed
- It takes a lot of energy to examine my conscience to determine all of the little sins I’ve committed since my last confession
- Again, I think I’ve been pretty good
In a nutshell, this all boils down to one reason: I don’t need confession. Not yet.
The problem is that this mindset in itself betrays that I have a reason to go to confession. More importantly though, it betrays a misunderstanding of just what confession is…
Often, I think of confession as a place I go to get rid of something. Like I have these ugly sin-things that I just want to dump off on some poor unsuspecting priest so I can move on with my life.
But sin isn’t some thing; It’s the lack of someone. It’s the lack of Christ within us. When we go to confession we aren’t going to get rid of something, we should be going to meet someone. To be embraced by our merciful Father and filled with His love.
Revisiting my reason for avoiding confession with this understanding, it looks more like this: I don’t need Jesus. Not yet. Now I know…I receive communion at least every Sunday. I get Jesus there, too. But I’m offered so much more, and instead of leaping with joy and jumping at the opportunity, I’m like, “meh, I’m good. Thanks though.”
Having grave sin on our conscience is not a necessary prerequisite to going to confession. The only prerequisite is being a person who needs the love of Christ, and doesn’t that describe all of us— no matter how saintly or sinful?
No child is afraid of getting gifts on Christmas. So let’s stop being afraid of the immense gifts we are given in the Sacraments! Like a little kid joyfully anticipating Christmas morning, let’s go joyfully to confession this Advent, eager to receive God’s mercy.