Soup for the Soul

I have a love/hate relationship with the Catholic notion of Confession. I love the effects of Sacrament of Reconciliation: the renewed confidence in God’s love for me; the grace to continue growing in holiness; the ability to receive the Eucharist. But I hate forcing myself to make the time to actually GO to the sacrament. Let’s face it, sitting in a tiny little box that has been strategically situated in the sanctuary where other people may or may not be able to hear the intimate and embarrassing things you are divulging is very intimidating!

There are definite times when I will put off going into the confessional as long as I can, either because I don’t feel ready or because I am afraid to go. And then there are those especially deplorable moments when I convince myself that I have no need to go at all because God already knows what I’ve done, or failed to do. Thus, Confession has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Not because I don’t see my own sinfulness but because I sin so frequently and mostly in the same ways. I am a sinner in the fullest sense of the word. I NEED the sacrament of Reconciliation as much as anyone ever could. But I avoid it at times for the same reason that I need to go. I always end up confessing the same sins.

The challenge then is how much I value my relationship with the Lover of my soul over my selfish pride. Am I willing to put aside the ego, which finds contempt at the thought of confessing the same sins over again, in order repair the damage I’ve done to my relationship with God? A quote comes to mind that strikes a chord in my soul every time I read it:

“The nearer Christ comes to a heart, the more it becomes conscious of its guilt; it will then either ask for His mercy and find peace, or else it will turn against Him because it is not yet ready to give up its sinfulness.” ~Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

So then confession is good for the soul. Even to become more aware of sin in oneself is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work within! What matters is the reaction to those convictions. We need to be humble enough to ask for His mercy as often as we recognize our need for it. The more we put it off, the harder our hearts will become and the harder it will be to fully overcome those things that damage our relationship with the Lord. We must be willing to bear our sins like a sick man bears his body before the physician. Naked, with nothing held back, nothing to hide, willing and ready to be healed. The depth of our desire to be healed is reflected in our willingness to return to the confessional time after time. Do we still believe we can be picked back up again and continue the good fight? Do we regret our sin enough to confess it? Do we trust that God loves us enough to forgive us over and over again?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~Mark 2:17

If we truly believe and acknowledge the gospel of Jesus Christ, then Confession should be a natural and integral part of our spiritual growth. It should be our desire to be as close to God as possible. Sin damages that bond, so we should be willing to take that proverbial soup for our souls and be cleansed of those things which weaken that bond. Jesus wants to heal us. The question is, do we really want to be healed?

Colleen Manahan