In a March 12th Instagram Live, Father Matt Hood joined Unleash the Gospel to discuss confession and why we go — particularly during the Lenten season — and the special grace that the sacrament brings at all times. Confession is not only here for when we have grave sins to confess; it also provides joyful missionary disciples the opportunity to be washed in the mercy and absolution of God, and to move from “good” to “better.”
The place to resolve our imperfections, Father Hood says, “is not just working harder or trying to be more creative, but it’s repentance. Repentance is the grace to begin again.”
Archbishop Vigneron, too, encourages us to recommit ourselves to the sacrament in Marker 3.3 of Unleash the Gospel saying, “The Sacrament of Reconciliation was given to the Church by the Lord Jesus himself as the preeminent place for the baptized to respond anew to his call to repentance and to receive the Father’s mercy. The renewal of this sacrament in our local Church is an essential part of our efforts to unleash the Gospel.”
Here are three things to consider when you attend confession.
Make it worth your while.
For joyful missionary disciples, “being cleansed of sin is crucial for opening [ourselves] to the movement of the Holy Spirit.” (UTG Marker 3.3) Confession helps us strengthen our best habits of discipleship: our docility to the Spirit, our confidence in God and his mercy, our apostolic boldness. We shouldn’t just enter into this casually.
Put in the time before entering the confessional to really examine your conscience. “Realize,” says Father Matt, “that each time we go to confession it can be a time of profound conversion.” Make the true effort to ask yourself where you need grace, where you often slip into sin, where you avoid your identity as a child of God or anywhere else your faith and life may be strengthened.
Be concise and be prepared.
Consider taking notes during your examination of conscience so you can be specific and precise when confessing. It may feel challenging to present your sins to a priest without telling stories or giving context, but Archbishop Vigneron reminds us in Unleash the Gospel that, “No sin is unforgivable, and through the sacrament the Father’s embrace and a fresh start await [you].” (UTG Marker 3.3) Focus on clearly and sincerely offering the sins for which you’re seeking absolution, and remain dedicated in the trust of God’s mercy.
Recognize the difference between confession and spiritual direction.
God is constantly offering us abundant graces, especially through our participation in the sacraments. Confession is here to help us move from “good” to “better” through the absolution of our sins. Spiritual direction, however, is a means to help you determine how the Spirit is moving in our lives and how we can move from “good” to “better” outside of the confessional.
Reconciliation and spiritual direction are both opportunities to open ourselves — heart, mind and soul — to God. In Reconciliation we experience healing, but in spiritual direction we receive guidance. If you’re looking to keep moving forward in your walk with Jesus but you’re unsure how, this is something to discuss with a spiritual director.
For more on Confession, watch the IG Live with Fr. Matt Hood.