I have a love / hate relationship with Confession.
I love that feeling of walking away clean, that feeling of wholeness you have knowing your sins are as far from you as the the east is from the west. I love that time with the priest, walking through my life over the past couple of week, and hearing his lessons on how I can try to reach closer to God. You can truly feel God’s presence in Confession in a way that simply is not present at any other time. It’s truly very special.
There is one thing about confession that drives me crazy though. Every time I open the door to the holy closet, it’s the same thing.
It’s like deja vu, I am confessing the same darn things I did last week.
What the heck man? Didn’t we go through this last time? Didn’t we talk about how to avoid these very same sins? I could have sworn I remember firmly saying that these were the exact sins that I was not going to bring to Confession this time, and yet, here I am with the same old crap. It almost makes me want to go do something else bad just so that I can have something different to say.
It makes me feel like a blooming idiot.
This is why my ears perked up when one of our teachers at my formation classes started to talk about this subject. I was thinking there might be one or two of you with the same problem, so I figured I would share his thoughts on the matter. I thought they were actually quite profound. I am sure I will not do them justice, but I will give it my best. Most of the ideas that follow come from Father, but I will be speaking in the first person for clarity and brevity.
Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Laziness.
(Father added Fear to this list)
You know what these are of course, the cardinal sins, those sins on which all others are based from. One of these is yours. Now I know, you may think you have a little of all of them, but one stands out as your own. It is the one that seems to run your life. It’s the one that you have to bring to Confession every dang week. (If you are having trouble identifying yours, look for my post to come soon on how to examine your conscience)
For us to understand this, we have to have a little theology. (Just a little, I promise!)
Satan is not an inventor. He does not make new things. There is nothing in this world that was not created directly by God. What Satan does is twist things. He takes good things that God has made, and he puts them into the wrong context, and that it what makes them evil. The easiest example is sex. Sex is created by God. It brings a husband and wife closer together, and through their mutual love, brings life into the world. It is truly a gift from God. If you take this same gift and twist it however, you have abortion, birth control, homosexuality and teen pregnancy. See? God made the thing good, Satan twisted it. (See that wasn’t so bad was it?)
So I need you to imagine that God built you with an engine somewhere inside you, and this engine runs all the time. It has boundless fuel, and endless power. To this engine there is connected a drive shaft, a pole designed to connect this power to parts of your life. This big sin is not the engine, it is the engine unconnected. The drive shaft just bounces around your life, smacking into all your relationships like a bull in a china shop. It is not under control. God made you with this engine, it is a part of your fundamental power, but you have allowed it to get twisted, and so it is wreaking havoc in your life. It is like an uncontrolled demon.
This engine is going to pump away no matter what we do, God put it there, so it is not going away. What are we to do?