(A confession of being afraid of confession)
By Mariah Allan
YMO, St Paul’s College Kempsey
Imagine walking into Church and finding, to your surprise, you have to squeeze your way through approximately 150 people just standing up the back. Seats are vacant and Mass has just started, yet all these people are waiting, staring at their shoes or wringing their hands. Would you be confused – because I sure was when I saw this at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Poland last year.
My little family and I pleasantly walked into the church, expecting to hear Mass, yet were met with this barrage of bodies…it was really weird and to be honest, I think we were all a bit puzzled. Were they just looking at the building? Or were they planning on leaving Mass early so didn’t want a seat?
Yet when I studied them closely I saw that one by one they would move to these little boxes (confessionals) scattered around the back of the church…all these people were lining up for reco?? I actually couldn’t believe it, but it was SO AWESOME and it made me wonder why at Church here very few people actually go to Reco (or the sacrament of Reconciliation).
But let’s be honest, for the majority of us when we hear at Mass that Reco is available our heart rates increase and we would rather just hide in our cars. I know for me, my mind was always filled with worries about what the priest might think of me and I’d made my meticulously rehearsed shopping list of sins ready to be blurted out the second I got in there so I wouldn’t forget ANY. But part of me knew that was not what Reco was about. In all my fears and worries, I’d forgotten Jesus…who is the REASON I was there.
But then I read something that He said to this AWESOME Saint called St Faustina (really encourage you to become her friend) which turned my distasteful view of Reco on its head. He said “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 (Diary entry 1602)
WOAH right?? These words of Jesus made me do a complete backflip and actually, yes actually, WANT to go to Reco! So in Reco (or Confession) Jesus HIMSELF speaks His words to ME specifically and directs MY SOUL personally, through the Priest! Reco is no longer this performance of my recited sins, nor just haphazard words a Priest thinks we need to hear but is actually orchestrated by and with Jesus. Our worries then, about what the Priest might think, or whether we’ll say everything right, are totally irrelevant because WHATEVER happens in Reco we can trust is exactly what God knows we need.
But I think you’ll agree with me that saying sorry and going to Reco is hard. My parents often tell the story that when I was little and I did something wrong, I would never say sorry… EVER! Like the time they found me ‘ACCIDENTALLY’ making loud noises in my sister’s bedroom at 5:00 am, just because I wanted her to wake up and play Barbie’s with me. My four year old self would defiantly scowl up at mum and dad, little arms crossed and lips as thin as paper. NO words were coming out, ESPECIALLY the word ‘Sorry!’
It’s fair to say that as a child I had a LOT of pride, but the truth is, I think we, myself included, can often be like this with God. Whenever we’ve done something sinful or wrong, God, like my parents, knows it already, yet often we just cross our arms and rely on ourselves to fix our own mess, rather than coming to Him. We just won’t humbly admit that we’re wrong, say sorry and desire to change.
BUT this weekend we have the PERFECT opportunity to come to God because it’s DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY!!
Now if you’re anything like I was three years ago, hearing about Divine Mercy Sunday probably means absolutely nothing to you. But the truth is, Jesus’ Divine Mercy is actually of INFINITE importance and relevance to you today in 2019! In fact, I would argue that it is one of the MOST important things you could learn about in your whole life!
So what is this Mercy thing all about?? It’s simply about love. That God loves you SO MUCH that He wants you to recognise that His love is greater than ALL your sins and ALL your mess ups. He has even gone to the extent of PHYSICALLY APPEARING (check out the Divine Mercy Image) to our friend St Faustina and instructed her to tell the WHOLE WORLD about His mercy. Jesus said to her that He wanted THIS SUNDAY each year to be a celebration of His Divine Mercy and that He LONGS to embrace us through Reco and Holy Communion.
Life with Jesus isn’t always easy, but it is simple. I think it’s so beautiful and fascinating that Jesus has this unwavering commitment to US, and I seriously encourage you to open your heart to Him and take this opportunity. So, if this is your first time going to Reco or your 12,067th time going, know that you are meeting Jesus who loves you. We spend so much of our lives pretending, Reco is the one place we don’t need to pretend.
Let’s approach our ALL loving God full of confidence praying “Jesus I trust in You!”
If you want to know more about Divine Mercy and what Jesus spoke to St Faustina, I encourage you to check out this link: