A Skeptic’s Return to Confession


“Do you want to be well?”

The poignant question posed in the priest’s homily echoed in my mind as I stood in the back of my home parish waiting to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in years. The scripture reading from the Book of John came to mind. Jesus asks a sick man simply, “Do you want to be well?” A moment later, Jesus says, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk,” and the man miraculously does just that. It is through the sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest said, that Jesus offers us the same healing.

I have never doubted the power of God’s forgiveness or the healing that He can provide, yet I find myself avoiding the sacrament despite the multitude of opportunities available to me. Why must I confess my sins to a priest when I can bring forth my guilt directly to God in prayer? Unlike God, the priest does not know me or my life. Can the priest really grant me pardon?

As I waited in line, I thought of my first Reconciliation. Unsure of what to say, how to pray and what to do, I remember timidly sitting down in a folding chair next to a visiting priest who could not have missed the blatant fear spread across my face. (Writer’s note: This is before the time of iPhone apps with guides to confession.) We made the sign of the cross together and soon after, I was on my way. “That’s it?” I remember thinking to myself.

Now, many years later, I found myself approaching the sacrament in a totally different way. No longer a child, I stood ready as a strong, faithful woman who recognizes the need for God’s forgiveness. Despite my doubts, I walked toward the priest open to God’s healing and mercy and minutes later, I returned to my pew feeling renewed —a true blessing.

The prophet Isaiah perhaps said it best: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Within the simple act of verbally confessing our sins, Jesus does something profound—he wipes our slate clean and makes us new again. The sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift meant to be cherished and appreciated, not something to be disregarded as I have for many years.

Just like the sick man in the Gospel of John, I want to be made well, and it is through the sacrament of Reconciliation that God, through His divine power and love, makes us well.


1 Comment »

  1. Stacey-101742 October 26, 2013 Reply

    Confession is the best thing not only for our salvation but our sanity and health . I read an article approximately a year ago , it stated how so few people went to the Doctors in the earlier centuries and how little mental health problems plague society like today.
    I can testify this to myself . I have family and friends throughout the years who always go to the Doctors , whether for emotional healing , mental , or AA meetings etc .. How they make excuses , look outside themselves all the time .
    Confession makes us focus on us and whats going on within us , with the Grace from God , and when God is invited in , He heals us, He makes us whole , He brings balance , He brings His peace , healing and restores His Holy Order within us the way we are meant to be , to live , in His truth not ours . We deny, lie , do not want to see reality for what it is , we make excuses , we numb our pain , feelings etc .
    God is Truth and its the Truth that sets us free !
    Being real , and seeing our selves the way God sees us is healthy , and recognizing the evil we are capable of , the sins and sufferings we cause others , and by the same token those who have abused us or hurt us neglected us etc . God in His Almighty Love heals us and helps us forgive others when we make the effort to try and learn , to step out of our comfort zones and reach towards His love or even open our hands and hearts just to receive his Precious love .
    God brings balance and peace and with that we don’t need Doctors when God is already telling us what to do . If God gives us His suggestion to see a Doctor for actual health , like a serious flu , breaking an arm etc then of course see a Doctor . But many times emotional baggage in us gets in our way and Gods way and its sad to see people look every where else to find answers , when really the answers were in the confessional with The Holy Priest who is praying and our Spiritual vessel for God to do what we need done within us that only The Holy Priest can do , by Him being ordained , That Sacrament is given to us by God for a reason , because as any good parent knows , sometimes , a Father knows best and in Gods case our Holy Father , ALWAYS knows what is best for us .

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