Confession: Calling Us Out of Comfort

This past summer I had the great gift of completing a hospital chaplaincy internship. There were numerous moments of repentance and grace (thanks be to God!), but there were also tragic moments. The most tragic of these tragic moments, for me at least, was seeing people whose hearts were so closed that they did not see their need for God’s mercy. There was one lady in particular who had not been to Confession for years, and I gently invited her to the sacrament, but she took offense and replied, “Why would I go to Confession? I don’t have anything to confess.”

She had no sense of her sinfulness, no reason to stretch out her hand to the Father of Mercies. She was closed off. Completely. It was terrible to see.

But are we really that different? Do we feel the depth of our need for God and his Mercy? Are we able to confront the terrible darkness of our sin and beg God for his light? Or do we choose to live as “comfortable Catholics”: telling ourselves that our sins are not that bad, and go to confession just because that’s what we do.

The season of Lent calls us to shatter the “comfortable” illusion and live true repentance from the core of our being. We need to face sin and the fact that we have sinned. We need to face the fact we are in a terrible condition, so that we might know how terribly we have been loved by our God.

Two summers ago, I was on a road trip to a new assignment and found myself talking to a man who was begging at a gas station. I don’t remember his name, or where he was from, but I will always remember something he said. The man was a veteran and told me that he had “done some things in Afghanistan.”

He said: “What I have done is so terrible, so heavy that just telling God I’m sorry isn’t enough, I need something more, so I’m looking at becoming Catholic because I need to go to confession.”

That hit me hard. This man saw the weight of his sin. He saw it so strongly that he knew he needed something more than himself, he needed God’s grace and mercy in the sacrament of Confession.

What about us? The reality is that our sins are more similar to that veteran’s than we are comfortable admitting. Lent and Confession call us out of that comfort zone. This Lent, then, let’s ask for the grace and the light to be real with God. So next time you go to Confession, ask God to show you how greatly you have sinned. We cannot know that we are saved, unless we know what we have been saved from.

Br. Michael Thomas Cain, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE

James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey-Buillon, France). The Return of the Prodigal Son (Le retour de l'enfant prodigue), 1886-1894