A Good Confession

Tuesday, March 21, 2017



When I was preparing to make my first Confession, back in 3rd Grade CCD, my pastor told us a story about his first confession as a little boy. He wanted to make a really GOOD confession, so he wanted to have a really good sin to tell.
He decided to confess to the priest that he had killed his mother.

The priest, rightly, suspected this might not be the case and inquired a little more into why this 7 year old thought he killed his mother. The story of desiring to have a really good first confession came out, and the priest gave him a little talk about the importance of saying sins you actually committed.

I gleaned from this that a good confession did not necessarily entail having a big mortal sin to confess, but I was still confused about what makes a good confession. I always seemed to be confessing the same things every time, which, when the goal is never to commit those sins again, seemed to be the spiritual equivalent to spinning my wheels.

I was not just trying and failing to do better - I did not fully understand why these sins were a continual struggle or how to start stepping towards defeating those perpetual spiritual struggles.

It was not until going to a talk given by one of my favorite Dominican priests on the 7 Deadly Sins that I started to understand how to make a good confession. That talk gave me the words to name the root causes of my little spiritual struggles.

The one that blew my mind the most was Acedia. I had never heard the term before. Acedia has to do with sadness at a spiritual good. This is when you will do ANYTHING besides pray, go to mass, or pursue other spiritual goods. The very thought of going to confession or praying fills you with sadness and restlessness. Suddenly all those times I convinced myself I had "just gotten too busy" to pray seemed less innocent.

Having a name for root sins was a game changer for me. I could tell the priest specifically what I was struggling with and get much more fine tuned advice that addressed the root issue - not just my venial sin symptoms.

The beauty of examining your sins to find that root pattern is that each of the deadly sins is countered with a virtue. There is a practicality in the teaching that forces us to see ourselves as we really are, but also gives us the virtue road map to lead us out of those sinful patterns. It allows us the brutal honesty necessary to make a good confession, and the fighting chance to really mean it when we say "I firmly resolve with the help of your Grace to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin."

This post is part of the monthly CWBN Blog Hop. Check out other responses to "my true feelings about Confession" over at Reconciled to You.



10 comments :

  1. This is so awesome! I am looking forward to going back to listen to the Dominican priest's lecture you linked to. I think it may assist me in my continued efforts to "make a good Confession". It's true - understanding the underlying causes for some of these sins is so very important.

    Also, I love that priest's story! I got a good chuckle out of it - and, your insight was spot on... the little things add up, and behind those little sins are usually greater ones hidden.

    Even so, sometimes I still feel like I'm spinning my spiritual wheels... Haha!

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    1. I so wish I had that talk recorded! Alas, we're not that lucky. I found a link that does a decent job of explaining each of the 7 deadly sins, and some of their counteracting virtues.

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  2. You continually surprise me with things I've never heard of! You are so right about the importance of knowing and naming our root sin. Great to have another name in my lexicon.

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  4. Well said Kirby! Sometimes, I think we all have that desire to make a good confession, and in turn, find that we are confessing the same thing over and over again. When we get to heart of the matter, we realize that there is a deep sin, that prevents us from doing what we are supposed to do.

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  5. Really beautiful reflection, Kirby! Thank you for sharing. Recently, I had a priest tell me to pray for a particular virtue, which would help me with my struggle with a particular sin. It was SO helpful! I love the idea that our sins can be countered with a virtue. What hope!

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    1. It is so hopeful! I love that the tradition teaches us not just the names for our struggles, but also the way to defeat them.

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  6. "The beauty of examining your sins to find that root pattern is that each of the deadly sins is countered with a virtue. There is a practicality in the teaching that forces us to see ourselves as we really are, but also gives us the virtue road map to lead us out of those sinful patterns." love this. What a great post.

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  7. That little boy! How hilarious! I know some people who purposely seek out a different priest for each confession due to embarrassment over always confessing the same sins. That seems like a missed opportunity for being able to recognize patterns with the right guidance.

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    1. Hearing the advice to pick a regular confessor felt akin to reading the part of the Screwtape Letters that addresses church shopping. It's small enough that we can convince ourselves we're just looking for a good fit, but the reality is we're hiding from something we'd rather not face.

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