The idea of confession has always baffled me a little bit. It seemed like a waste of time (not to mention incredibly awkward) to talk about such intensely personal things with someone that would see me around the school/church afterwards.
When I started going back to Mass in August, I found myself having this intense desire to go to confession, but I still couldn’t bring myself to go to my parish priest. I argued with myself that it would be too embarrassing and that I couldn’t face him afterwards (he is this adorable little old Asian man). I tried going to a different parish and confessing behind the screen, but ended up leaving without actually confessing any of my major sins (and then proceeded to almost have a panic attack in the car).
This discontent went on for more than two months and then God intervened for me – I had early dismissal from school and went to noon Mass at a neighboring parish (where I hadn’t been in YEARS) instead of going in the morning before school. Their regular priest was out and they had a visiting priest for that one Mass and for some reason, when I went to communion, I randomly thought to myself, “I think I could confess to him.” I tracked him down at his home parish and arranged to meet him for confession a week later.
To go back to confession after years of having essentially turned my back on the church was really hard. I had trouble even speaking some of the words out loud, and at times I questioned my sanity since I couldn’t even do it behind the screen, and now here I was face to face with the priest. Ultimately, though, I’m glad I was able to do it in person, and I didn’t actually die from embarrassment like I thought I would. The priest was incredibly patient and let me set the pace, and when I had finally managed to stammer through the entire story and all of my sins, he seemed to find exactly the words that I needed to hear. I left feeling better than I had in years.
Slowly, though, this little bit of doubt began to creep in. How was it possible that I could have committed all of these sins and be forgiven that easily? (not that it was actually easy by any means)
Three weeks later, I found myself back in his office, trying to make sense of everything. I explained to him the difficulty I was having with accepting that I was forgiven, and he mentioned the Diary of St. Faustina and recommended praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. That very night, everything clicked into place – I don’t really know what changed, whether it was those specific prayers or that I was in a better place spiritually and was able to be open to the idea of forgiveness, but I really started to feel forgiven. I felt (and still feel) whole in a way that I don’t think I have ever felt.
One of my favorite parts from the Diary of St. Faustina:
Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.