This week I visited my confessor (not as scary as it sounds). My confessor is a special Spirit-friend to whom I go for the sacrament of reconciliation (sometimes called confession and absolution). This sacrament is one that not a lot of people have experienced first-hand, so I wanted to give you a window into what it was like.
My confessor welcomed me warmly on the Zoom call and gave me some time to gather myself. After a couple of minutes, I let him know that I was ready, and we began.
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins,” he said.
“His mercy endures forever.” I replied.
We began with this reminder, grounding ourselves in the goodness and mercy of God.
“May God, who enlightens every heart, help you to confess your sins and trust in his mercy.”
And with this generous encouragement and invitation, I made my confession to God.
“Most merciful God, have mercy upon me, in your compassion forgive my sins, both known and unknown, things done and left undone, especially…”
This is where I named out loud those things that had been weighing me down. I exposed my broken pieces, my shame and guilt, the the things that I had done (and not done) that had wounded others, the world, and myself. I took the time I needed, it wasn’t polished or put together, but the exposed messiness of my disquieted soul.
When I was finished, I continued.
“O God, uphold me by your Spirit that I may live and serve you in newness of life, to the honour and glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
This moment between confession and absolution is raw and vulnerable, but my confessor held me in that space with tenderness and care. He offered to me some short words of comfort and counsel that he were moved to share, and then continued with the pronouncement of grace.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to the Father, and who conferred power to his Church to forgive sins, absolve you through my ministry by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and restore you in the perfect peace of the Church. Amen. “
Grace upon grace. Peace that passes all understanding. In the face of my sin, I was confronted with the love and liberation of God.
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven;” my confessor began.
“and whose sin is put away.” I finished.
“The Lord has put away all your sins,”
“Thanks be to God.” I responded…and I meant it.
“Go in peace, and pray for me a sinner.”
This is how the sacrament ends, with my confessor asking for my prayers, and I love it. I was not coming to a person who was holier-than-thou, but a fellow traveller on the Way, a sinner, just like me.
Maybe you will never participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That’s OK. However, if you are curious about it, I would be happy to talk with you further. Regardless, I hope that you get to have the kind of experience with God where your trembling vulnerability is met by being surrounded by love and embraced by grace.
Thanks be to God!