Confessions: Why Shoo Away God’s Love?

Fr Mark Mossa, SJ has a great post on confession in which he refers to our Busted Halo videos on confession which you can view below. He writes:

One of my favorite things to do as a priest–believe it or not–is to hear confessions. Some people are afraid to go to confession because they are afraid that the priest is going to yell at them (and, unfortunately, it may even have happened to them once). Honestly, I can’t imagine any reason why I would feel compelled to yell at someone during a confession. One might need to be firm about something at times, but there’s still no need to yell. Indeed, my experience is that usually it becomes a joyful and healing conversation, once the person has gotten past the difficult part of confessing his or her sins. Sometimes people laugh, sometimes they cry, but it is because it has been a good experience.
Another reason people don’t go is because they feel embarrassed because they don’t know what to do. I wouldn’t let this deter you because, in my experience, nearly half of all my confessions have been with people who weren’t sure what they were doing. I’m happy to help. In fact, I often have to stop people from leaving because they’ve stood up to go before I’ve had the chance to give them absolution!

He also pointed out The BustedHalo new cheat sheet for confessions. Which essentially allows you to review the steps for confession before you enter the box or reconciliation room. A good rule of thumb for priests when hearing confession: “Don’t hate the playa, Father–hate the sin.”

Here are the aforementioned videos:

I would say this from my own sinful experience…

I don’t confess enough. And when I do I always come out feeling lighter, free from burden and simply filled with God’s love. I really do feel that way. I don’t take advantage of it for some reason though and I really can’t understand why we all do this. Studies show that confessions are down. Why do we shoo away God’s love? It is there freely offered and freely given. But God never forgives sins against our will and perhaps that’s where we come in with the giant God-swatter?

We think we know better. We think we know when the best time is for us to have sex with someone instead of freely giving of ourselves in marriage. We justify our petty outbursts of anger by saying that the other person deserved it. We claim that “it’s nothing personal” when we stab a co-worker in the back. We ignore the homeless and forget that they are God’s children too and claim that we can’t help everyone. We say what other choice did the woman have who aborted her baby and we then exonerate her choice as necessity and don’t ever ask how we played a part in these deaths.

We know better. There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re basically good people.

Bullshit. (Now I need to go to confession for cursing!) These are lies we tell ourselves to ignore our need for God and for one another.

Confession exists for precisely this reason: We are imperfect. Better stated: We are not God. We need God and we are not even gracious enough to welcome forgiveness when it is freely given.

So today, go to confession. Seek out a priest you are comfortable with and spill your guts–but first think about what kind of betrayals you really take part in and most of all BE HONEST. You’re not going to fool God–he knows your sin even before you committed it.

My most memorable confession was with a priest that I was very close to in college. I left in tears–but in a good way. It was my most honest confession because I was telling someone that I trusted all the things that I hate about myself.

Yeesh! That is not always easy to admit–especially to those who know us well. Chances are, however, they know our faults anyway–just as God does and they, like God, love us anyway.

Confession Compilations

Dr. Christine Whelan offers some thoughts on a priest who compiled the sins that people confessed and noticed a difference between what men and women confess. Turns out that women confess pride most often and men confess lust (no surprise there!).

But Dr. Whelan smartly points out a good point:

Are women actually more “proud” than men? So women confess pride more often. Might it just be that women are more likely to think that their feelings of pride are sinful, whereas men think their feelings of pride are well-deserved and normal? My previous research has shown that women often downplay their accomplishments, because they feel culturally compelled to present themselves as demure and “sweet” — not strong and successful. This kind of socialization effect will carry over from the classroom to the bar to the confessional; it’s the way we are taught to operate. So a woman who gets an “A” on a test and thinks she’s da bomb for doing so might feel a twinge of guilt about her excitement, whereas a man would not.

Are men confessing to lust because they are conditioned to do so? I give talks to college students about dating and marriage, and you might be surprised that in the Q&A sessions, it’s the guys who do most of the talking. The men are quick to talk about their desire for a late night booty call to be answered in the affirmative, and what a “hook-up” really means in their circle of friends. After one such talk, it occurred to me that many think they are cool, attractive and more masculine for “confessing” those thoughts. I’m not saying that men are more lustful than women; I wonder how much our social conditioning impacts what we think to confess.

An excellent point by the good doctor. But we should add another piece to this.

Were the specific instances mentioned in these confessions actually sins? The correct answer here is that we don’t know.

We should notice that the data indictates that men and women confess these sins but it does not say whether these admissions are actually sins. Some women may in fact confess pride but may simply be downplaying their accomplishments. A good confessor would be able to point out that her behavior in this instance may indeed not be sinful at all.

So while women may confess pride–they indeed may not be committing that sin at all. The same with male confessions of lust which may just be natural feelings of attraction at time that someone interprets too scrupulously. Hopefully, the priests doing the compiling (which is dangerously close to breaking the seal of confession in my opinion) were able to tell the difference.

For more on how to go to confession–especially if it’s been awhile…check out our confession videos:

var addthis_pub=”googlinggod”;
<a onmouseover="return addthis_open(this, '', '[URL]', '[TITLE]')" onmouseout="addthis_close()" href="http://wwwjavascript:void(0)
Publish″ onclick=”return addthis_sendto()”>Bookmark and Share