Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on the Sacrament of Reconcilation: Dedicated to Amber and Those in RCIA

Thank you to those who have posted nice comments about my entry on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I believe that apart from the Eucharist, this is the most important Sacrament. Of course, it's my opinion, but I'll explain my reason for thinking this.

One of the most powerful weapons the devil uses to keep us from progressing in our faith is by tricking us into believing we are hopeless.

In fact, I'm going to pause here and ask you to read the above sentence slowly while focusing on the meaning.

When you focus on the weakness of your flesh, there is a spiritual battle raging to keep you stuck there, mired in your belief that whatever your sin may be - it is too much to admit to another human being, let alone a priest who is acting in persona of Christ.

There are many thoughts here, so bear with me while I try to capture them...

Jesus Christ pointed out to those who wanted to stone an adulteress that "he who had not sinned" could cast the first stone. None took Him up on the offer. Jesus Christ gently but firmly pointed out to the woman at the well that she was living in sin but yet engaged her in a religious discussion. She ended up being one powerful evangelist that day and I suspect, all the following days in her life. Jesus Christ lovingly welcomed the tears of a woman who poured expensive perfume upon His feet and said, "he who is forgiven much, loves much." The depth of her gratitude knew no bounds as she showered Jesus with her love.

Jesus always beckoned to the sinner to come closer and allow Him to forgive them. He came for the sinner, not those who thought nothing was wrong with them. He welcomed, even celebrated those who recognized their need for a Savior. Lives were radically changed after such exchanges with the Living Word of God.

Shame binds us. Shame is what Adam and Eve felt and they hid. The devil loves to see us scurry away to hide from God. Is there judgement? Judgement was done at the Cross. Jesus Christ paid the price so that we could face God and say we have been covered by the blood of His Son. Confessing our sin is showing God and His representatives on earth that we understand how we need Him and how much we need Jesus Christ. Yes, there are times our sins have repercussions and we have to deal with the consequences; but overall, God desires for us to trust in Him and not be afraid to approach Him.

When we stay stuck in our shame, the devil has a field day with us. Mind games are one of his specialties. Some go like this:

"Oh. So you're going to go to confession, eh? Ha. What a loser! And that priest is going to think you're a loser, too. Especially if you confess the same sin, you moron! Haven't you learned anything? What the heck are you doing in Mass, anyway? Planning dinner parties? Trying to figure out the real plot of Lost? Haven't you been paying attention, you pathetic twit? If you've not become a saint in the past three months, you might as well hang up your halo. Sheesh! Go back to the Unitarians!"

Or some such.

You get the point. The devil is sneaky, almost clever beyond words. But God is all-powerful and the Holy Spirit can cut through the heavy net of confusion and condemnation faster than you can say Jumpin' Jehosophat. You just have to be open.

Another thought: If you ever had any thought of reaching perfection while you're here on earth, it's probably a good idea to drop that little notion. We are frail, but in Him we are strong. It is a dichotomy, of sorts. On one hand, we're full of weaknesses, but yet He, who lives within us, is strong. The more we focus on Christ, the stronger we get. The more we focus on our weaknesses, the weaker we get. And nothing gives the devil more pleasure than getting us to focus on ourselves.

So be of good cheer! God loves us so much and Jesus Christ is reaching toward us to come closer, and allow Him to forgive us. I've heard that priests for the most part are delighted when we come to confession because they understand how difficult it can be. Remember, priests and nuns have to go to confession, too. But isn't it wonderful that we know that our confessing won't go any further than that small room? Believe me, I know about confidentiality or perhaps, the lack of it that occurs in most churches. Thank God that for us Catholics, our sins are not spread around, masquerading as "prayer needs" before others.

We have such a gift in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a most awesome feeling to confess my sin and walk out the door of the confessional and kneel in prayer to get my soul right with Him. How glorious! I daresay there have been many a soul who have walked out from a confessional lighter in step than before they walked in. Don't allow the devil to steal that lightness from you.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24


Amber said...

Thank you. I've probably reread this four or five times, and really thought about it. I think I'm going to keep this, so when I start worrying again I can reread it. If you were here, I would hug you. :)


Mary Rose said...

Amber, you completely made my day! Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Oh, and I'd definitely hug you right back. :-)

Helen H. David said...

Wonderful post! I feel shame often, especially since I've come back to the Church after so many years. Thank you. This really touched me, and made me feel so much better about receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation tomorrow in preparation for Christmas. You helped me to remember that there is no shame in coming home to God.
If I were near you, I'd hug you too! God Bless you, Mary Rose.