Catholic Confession is Not Permission to Sin

Any child of the 1950′s who was raised pre-Vatican II knows confession is a very serious thing. We went to confession in the old fashioned confessionals. We had to kneel in the dark waiting for the little grate to open. We would say “Bless me Father” followed by a litany of our little sins. I called my brothers names (insert # of times) I disobeyed my mother, somehow I never disobeyed my father (insert # of times) and then a disembodied voice would give us our penance.

We would speed through an Act of Contrition and stumble out of the box hoping no one had heard our panicked voices. It was terrifying and it certainly kept us on the straight and narrow throughout our childhoods.

Anyone who thinks it is easy to do an examination of conscience hasn’t ever done one. No one likes to stare at their own short comings up close and personal. Not only do we have to examine them but we have to verbalize them. I remember once at a retreat I walked into a room to do my confession, thank goodness it was a closed room, because the priest was quite old and quite deaf. You haven’t lived until you have had to shout your sins. That certainly made me think twice about reforming my life.

The grace attached to this Sacrament is what keeps us coming back. That and hearing the priest say to us “Go in peace your sins are forgiven. It is very cathartic. We all know that it is God who forgives our sins not the priest and yes God knows all our sins but hearing the words of forgiveness certainly does make a difference.

Even today when I leave the Church after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation there is lightness to my step and to my heart.

As a former CCD teacher it has delighted me to watch the little children of today go smiling into the Reconciliation Room with no fear or trepidation. They all know Father Joe and they have no doubt that telling him their sins will be a good experience. With the young ones we all say our penance together after all the confessions are completed and it becomes something they can look forward to.

So no, Catholic confession is not permission to sin more but it is comforting to know that when inevitably we sin again, we can come back and be forgiven even our most grievous sins.

Photo credit: Pixabay confession_1424701264.jpg

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