The Orthodox Church identifies confession with a kiss of Christ! Catherine Doherty, whose cause for canonization has been introduced in the Church, once wrote that when her mother used to send her to confession, she would tell her, “Catherine, it’s time for you to go to confession and be kissed by Jesus.”
“My mother very gently and simply explained it. I had committed a fault and knew God wouldn’t like them so I sort of ran towards him, and sitting in his lap and putting my arms around his neck, I would kiss him – like I did my father – and tell him how sorry I was for having done something he didn’t like. In my imagination, Christ hugged me and said something like: ‘That’s all right, little girl. I know it’s not easy to always do the right thing.’ Then he would kiss me and bless me and say, ‘now go and play…’ Beautiful. We do stupid things. We sin. We harm ourselves and others and his only response? A kiss! “His lips touch ours, and fire and flame enter our hearts and cleanse them.”
It is heartbreaking to witness that while the secular world is discovering ‘confession’ we Christians are frequenting this sacrament less and less. This is most under-appreciated and underutilized sacrament in the Catholic Church. On the contrary, in the secular world ‘confession’ is a fast expanding phenomenon. Fee-based phone services and internet sites allow customers to record their confessions namelessly – anything from admissions of trivial theft to adultery and even murder. After the first year of business, one such Confession Line, reportedly made 17 million dollars!
Perhaps it is time to return to sacramental confession on a more frequent basis. Confessing our sins is even good for the body, because what wrecks our inner psyche is concealing things from others. The Church is a good mother and provides a sacrament that not only gives us the opportunity to admit our sins and speak about them to someone, but she also goes a step forward and in Jesus Christ gives us forgiveness, a chance to start again.
Some do not approach confession because they claim their sins are too serious. They perhaps forget that “The Doctor is all powerful, and the Medicine given by Him is all-powerful.” Our capacity for sinning is finite but God’s mercy is infinite! The un-confessed sin leaves an incurable wound on the soul. The confessed sin opens the heart of God that is filled to capacity with compassion
Others argue that there is no point in going to confession, if one knows one is going to sin again. Weird reasoning. We do wash our clothes even if we know we are going to dirty them again. We put gas in our car even if we know that we are going to empty the gas tank again. God understands our weakness and through frequent confession we acquire a desire to desist from sinning. Never underestimate the power of the sacrament.
Conversion is not a once-in-a-lifetime moment but an ongoing process that brings us ever closer to the holiness of God. A celebration of mercy.
Perhaps the real problem is that we have lost the sense of sin. We justify our adulteries, abortions, gossip, cohabitating, grumbling, cursing…Basically we think we are ok persons.
The story goes that the Prussian king Frederick the Great was once touring a prison. The inmates fell on their knees before him to declare their innocence – except for one man, who remained quiet. Frederick called to him, “Why are you here?” “Robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply. “And are you guilty?” “Yes, I did it.” Accordingly the king sent for the jailer and ordered him to release the thief “because otherwise he will corrupt all these splendid innocent people who live in it.”
Sin is the wound. Repentance is the medicine!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.