During confession, a priest once told me, “Never be afraid to be a work in progress. All you have to do is keep getting up each time you fall, and eventually, you’re going to win this battle.” At the time, I had been fighting a particular bad habit that I just couldn’t seem to conquer, but these words of encouragement were the breakthrough of hope that I needed to shield me against temptation. I’m pleased to say, several years after that confession, I’ve conquered the particular battle I had been fighting… which at the time seemed insurmountable.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, this encouragement is meant for you. I can almost guarantee that you know what I’m about to tell you, but I’ve heard it said that we don’t need to be taught nearly as often as we need to be reminded, and maybe this will be a chance for you to put something you already “know” you should be doing into practice.
On Getting to Confession
Use the buddy system. Get the commitment to go out of your own head, and share it with someone you trust to hold you accountable. If you tell someone, you’re not going to back out as easily, or you’ll realize how lame you’ll look backing out, and you’ll avoid it. #Huzzah
I’ve also found that asking for someone to intercede for you while you’re going to confession is incredibly powerful. It strengthens you, and reminds you that You’re Not Alone in this seemingly simple task that requires you to set aside your pride, and embrace a spirit of humility. Often, I’ll text one or two friends and say something like, “Hey, I’m going to confession, could you please say a prayer for me at that time that I would be able to make a good confession?” At the very least, it gives you courage. Try it!
Pray for your confessor. This is straight out of Vinny Flynn’s book, 7 Secrets of Confession. This January, I was really dragging my feet to get to confession, and I read in this book that you should “pray for your confessor” because he’s bound by the Church to pray for you. But the prayers aren’t only for your confessor’s holiness, they’re also so that he would understand you and be able to give you proper guidance.
The first time I tried this, my confessor legitimately spoke to my heart when he gave me direction. Not only was it empowering to support the growth of the Church by praying for the priest’s holiness, but it was also hugely comforting to feel so understood.
On Getting Back to Confession
There have been times when I’ve left confession feeling misunderstood, or rattled by the reality of my own sin. Usually this kind of experience makes me hesitant to return. In fact, when I picked up Vinny Flynn’s 7 Secrets of Confession, it was because I was trying to overcome a gnawing reticence I had built up towards approaching the sacrament, and I needed encouragement to help me over the hurdle. Perseverance was key in overcoming this. Reading Flynn’s tips helped demystify the sacrament again and reminded me of all the reasons I should return that were way more legitimate than my own fearfulness and pride.
“Be stouthearted, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). If you’re having trouble getting to confession, admit it, pray about it, and seek help outside yourself. His mercy truly is for you, but you must humbly seek it, and you’ll usually be more successful when you seek help outside of yourself.
Sometimes sin binds us and deludes us into believing that there’s no way out. Don’t buy that lie. Get to confession. The Lord is seeking your whole heart. Be open to his mercy!
Not Catholic, or looking for more info on confession? Check CatholicAnswers.com.