I have a love-hate relationship with confession.

I hate it because it’s never very comfortable to admit the stupid, shameful, ridiculous things I do. I wait in the line with a head full of exaggeration, thinking of myself like a man on death row, waiting for the needle. In my desire to make a good confession, I rehearse what I have to say, how I should say it to be concise but thorough, going over it and over it in my head until I think I’ve got it just right, then herding the stray smaller sins that have scattered away from my attention as my mind has been focused on the main problem areas. Each time the door opens and the next person goes in, I feel both an increase in nervous anticipation and relief. I take a step closer. “I just wanna get this over with,” I think.

I love Confession because the truth is, no priest I’ve encountered has ever been unduly harsh, even if some of the more pious ones have expressed legitimate concern at my failings. Certainly, I’ve never experienced a “torture chamber” in the confessional — I do all the torturing to myself. I also love it because unburdening myself of my sins is cathartic and calming, and because without the graces provided by the sacrament I’m afraid I’d be on a continuous bender of self-indulgence, following my wants and whims on a daily journey away from eternal salvation. Confession not only cleanses, it strengthens. It prunes my selfish accretions back, giving room for my heart to be open to His greatness. And it has the truly incredible benefit of offering a clean slate, every time.

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