Okay, I’ll admit it.
I hate going to Confession.
I’ll admit that I love the feeling after the sacrament is done, don’t get me wrong. It’s cleansing and freeing and one of the best feelings in the world. Sometimes I feel bad for those who aren’t Catholic just because they don’t get to experience that feeling.
But honestly, I hate going.
I am always aware of when it’s time for me to go. My soul feels heavy and like it’s pressing into my chest, numbing myself to the rest of the world. But I have the darndest time convincing myself to actually get in line at the Newman Center and do it.
Last night I ran into this very concern. I was studying like a good student in the library with every good intention to leave in time to go to Confession before 10 p.m. Mass. But as 9:15 rolled around, I found myself sitting at a desk in the library internally shouting at myself.
“YOU NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION!”
“But I don’t want to…”
“I DON’T CARE. YOU NEED TO GO.”
“I need to study some more. I’ll just do that before Mass instead.”
“NO. STOP BEING AN IDIOT.”
“But I have this big French assignment that I haven’t started yet…”
“I TOLD YOU, I DON’T CARE. JUST GET YOUR BUTT TO THAT CHURCH.”
So after this debate, I reluctantly packed up my things and walked over to the church. When I stepped inside the chapel doors, to my (albeit abhorrent) relief, there was a HUGE line for Confession. The first thought that pops into my head?
“Whew. Maybe there won’t be time for me to go.” (Terrible, I know. Humanity and concupiscence suck sometimes.)
So I took my time putting my backpack down in the pew, just in time for two other people to get in line before me. Even though I counted the chance that I would actually get to go as highly unlikely, I joined them in line, banking on the fact that there wouldn’t be enough time.
As I stood there in line, doing my Examination of Conscience in a sort of half-hearted manner, I began to think. Why was I so reluctant to go to Confession? Of course I am human and attached to my sin, that’s a given. Habits are easily formed and not easily broken, and I seemed to have the same sins every time I’d gone to Confession in the past two years. But that wasn’t really it. I also knew that the priest (who is a good friend of mine) wasn’t going to judge me, let alone even remember my Confession in two minutes. And I realized something, staring into the Monstrance with Jesus Himself looking back at me. I didn’t want to go to Confession because I was reluctant to learn more about myself.
Okay, that sounds kind of crazy. But I think it’s true. I’ve been going through a lot of personal and emotional changes lately, and it’s taken a toll on me. I have been changing a lot lately and learning a lot more about myself from my relationships with others. And I’m just not a fan of change in general. I was reluctant to go to Confession because I knew Jesus was going to show me something else about myself that I didn’t know before. And I didn’t want that. I wasn’t so much attached to sin as I was to my self, the self that I know and have known for a long time. I have had so much change in other areas of my life that I didn’t want this to be another place to adjust in, to work towards, to be aware of.
As I stood staring at Jesus in line, I quickly realized how really idiotically stupid that is. As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman says, “To live is to change, and to have changed often.” Life is full of change, full of flexibility and motion and elasticity. Change is inevitable in every aspect of my life. And just because I was hesitant to add my sin and the self I knew to the list of changes in my life, that’s what was going to happen because He wanted it for me. All the other changes in my life were in direct result of His influence in my life, so why should I not give over this aspect as well?
Lucky for me, I was the last one able to receive Confession before Mass started. As I quickly walked back to my pew, I said a quick “thank you” for the revelation He had given me, and the graces I had received from so blessed a sacrament.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to love going to Confession from now on. But I think the next time I start internally shouting at myself, I’ll have a little bit better retort to give.
“I’M AN IDIOT? YOU’RE AN IDIOT!”
Just kidding. Kind of.