Many of us, there are who have not being frequenting the confessional. We know quite a lot about how the Church requires of us to go for confession and we probably have not lost touch in believing, strongly believing, that God forgives us when we make a sincere confession. But that is not the problem, the problem seems to be that we do not trust ourselves so much not to commit those sins again. Many of us are tired of visiting the confessional again and again and again, having to confess the same sins, probably and most of the time to the same priest. Apart from the shyness and feeling of humiliation, those of us who have gotten past that still despair, and begin to ask what exactly the need is to go for confession when I may be back here again with the same offenses when I promised earlier that I would not sin again.
My dear friends, the good news is that when you promised at the confessional that we would not commit those sins again, we promised that we would not commit them again, not by our own power, but by the help of God’s grace. This we should never forget. It is all about grace; the supernatural life and help God is pleased to grant us through the merits of Jesus Christ in order to attain that perfection of the Divine Sonship to which he has called us. I say this because most of the time we leave the confessional scared, we want to remain in that state of grace, but we are still scared, scared because we have forgotten that we have the grace of God, and that what we should only do is to cooperate with that grace and not rely on our own strengths. For left alone, my dear friends, we cannot please God, we cannot avoid sin, especially with the weaknesses of our fallen nature and with the temptations all around us, both the ones we know and the ones we didn’t. This fright most of the time, prevents us from approaching the confessional, because we do not want to appear insincere in our relationship with God.
But we should always remember that God knows our weak human nature and that is why he continues to forgive us and offer us the gift of himself such that united with him we can conquer. But. There is also something about the confessional which we should always remind ourselves of when these kinds of thoughts come in; that in the confessional we have not only come for the grace of forgiveness, we have come for the grace to never commit those sins again. I say this now because some of us have entered into despair at one time or another, when we are so steeped in sin and we realize it and we are sorry but still we do not trust ourselves that much to go to the confessional and then not commit those sins again, other times we are even too sure that we would commit those sins again. I say, that is the moment, the precise moment to visit the confessional frequently, why, to gain grace.
I had this experience very typically last year, when I had a lot of issues, and sins plaguing my spiritual life, some becoming habitual, to the extent that I almost lost hope. I was going through some faith crises and was not praying anymore, and these things let my guard down spiritually, but what kept me going was the confessional. I remember walking to our lord in the blessed sacrament and telling him, ‘I will never let you go unless you bless me’, I remember telling him that I knew I didn’t trust myself so much to please him perfectly after each confession but that I would never cease to come to the confessional to gain grace to fight. And that I did, I increased my frequency of visiting the confessional to once every week, and I tried not to miss out on it, for the more the illness, the more the remedy. The confessional came to be for me, really and indeed a remedy. And it worked! The Lord did not refuse me his grace and I was eventually back on my feet to struggle. I knew that if I dreaded the confessional, I would sink more and more into my sins and despair, and be drawn farther and farther from my Lord.
I remember that even while these were going on, I asked the Lord for certain helps to prove to me that he heard me and that he loved what I did. On two occasions I asked him to show me by a sign that he was there receiving me at the confessional. The sign was that the priest in his counsel to me told me the secret things of my heart and spoke words to me that addressed my crisis and my struggles. At one time, the priest said to me, ‘You may not believe in God, but God believes in you’, I was so stunned because that addressed my faith crisis deep within. At another time, the few words the priest said to me was, ‘Do not despair, and continue to persevere’. Those words were so consoling and reassuring that I do not think I would forget them too quickly.
Dearest friends, it does not matter what you have done, or how long you have done it, so far as you realize that you have offended him , you are sorry for those offenses and you desire to amend your ways, just trust in the grace he has chosen to offer you, and cooperate with that grace. Know that he is always there to forgive you and to hold your hands and to life you up and to heal your wounds and tend them till there is not even a scar.
Our Life is a spiritual journey. Christ, on his way to Calvary showed us how that life is, typically. He fell, three times, but he rose up again, he didn’t fall and remain on the ground, he fell and rose up. Though he only fell three times, he fell three times that we may even after falling a million times, have an outstretched hand ready to get hold of us and lift us up. This is what he does in the confessional. So have you lost hope? Visit the confessional often!!! Go there and encounter the Lord Jesus ever ready to tend your wounds!!!
Would you share your own experiences of Christ at the confessional?
From your friend and brother: Chibuzor F. Ogamba