This Saturday our young parishioners made their first reconciliation. What a joy it was to see them prepare, make sense of the need to ask for forgiveness, be a bit nervous before they actually did it, and then bounce up and down after they went to confession. They were so proud of themselves, as they should be. This made me think: what about me? What about us? Do we still feel that way about confession? Or has
the life of adulthood robbed us of this simple joy of having our sins forgiven through confession? Lent is a time of repentance, so it makes sense that the Church asks us to make a sacramental confession of our sins during this holy time. Maybe it's been a while for some of us, maybe we are unsure about it, maybe we've been too busy, maybe too proud. Whatever is our situation, why not give it a go this Lent? Who knows, maybe afterwards we'll find that new bounce in our step as the young children did this Saturday after their first confession. To assist us you can pick up an examination of conscience at the back of the church or on our website. Go through it and prepare. Here are a few simply tips to make our experience of confession perhaps a bit less stressful:
1. The priest will probably not recognize you, and even if he does he cannot tell anyone what you confessed. This is called the "seal of confession".
2. Don't think you are unique in your struggles. It's common for us to feel that we must be alone in struggling with this or that sin. Let me tell you from my own experience of hearing confessions; Most of us struggle with similar things.
3. The priest will not judge you, because he too is a sinner. The priest goes to confession just like everyone else.
4. The priest will not question you about your sins. The point of confession is to forgive and not to interrogate. The rare question that the priest may ask is one of clarification, but even that is not common.
5. Confession is like Buckley's Cough Medicine: it tastes bad but it works. Our reluctance to go to confession is understandable. I don't like going to confession, but I love how I feel after. So, don't worry if you don't like doing it, you're not supposed to.
Confessions are heard 30 minutes before all Masses. During Lent we will also have a special Penance Liturgy on March 23 (Friday before Holy Week) at 7pm at St. Mary's Owen Sound, with a number of visiting priests assisting us. Please do take advantage of this sacrament of God's mercy.