Question: A friend told me he was insulted that, in confession, a priest asked him…
Going to confession is not just about me
On a bright sunny morning in early May, I quickly realized that I was in deep need for confession. It was not because I had suddenly committed a very grievous sin — though all sin should be taken seriously. Rather, the time since my last confession was longer than usual, and I was feeling the compounding weight of my sins and the lack of grace that comes with it. In a way, it was like I had been collecting stones that individually were not heavy enough to cause much notice, but suddenly I couldn’t get up.
I’m a typically peaceful person. I once had a friend ask me if I ever got stressed, and I had to pause for a moment before answering because it wasn’t a simple yes or no answer. Yes, I get stressed, but it takes a lot to get me down. Well, when the nagging voices of anxiety and exhaustion start building up, that’s my sign that a thorough confession is long overdue.
That’s where I found myself on this lovely May morning. The weekend before had been filled with long hours with family and friends, something that usually would have given me more life. Instead, I was drained. That following Monday consisted of little irritations that just seemed to nag at me more than usual — car work that was more than I wanted, a dead battery in my apartment smoke detector causing it to go off right before I needed to go to bed, ruminations of conversations from the weekend that were stealing peace for no reason. All of these things were events that in a more grace-filled state would have made me barely bat an eye. But instead, my heart and my soul were vulnerable. They needed a good cleansing.
Before the pandemic hit, I had a good rhythm of going to confession about once a month. This was something I had struggled with for years, but after moving to Fort Wayne, my weeks revolved around two young adult groups that gathered after Mass and adoration, where confession was always available. Slowly but surely, I got better at going to confession regularly and to the same priests.
Since returning to the sacraments last May, however, this one in particular has been difficult to regain in consistency. In short, I lost my momentum, and now I’m feeling it.
As I was reflecting on my need for confession ASAP — thank you, Fort Wayne, for having so many churches that I have no excuse for putting it off any longer — I realized what was really eating at me. True, I hate the exhaustion and anxiety that comes with a long-overdue confession, but more than anything I dislike who I am during these periods of time. I dislike the fact that I can’t be my best self for the people around me when I’m not in a state of grace.
Since January, I’ve been going through a program called The Woman School, which helps women — and now men through The Man School — integrate all aspects of their life: family, self image, health, friendships, intimacy, contribution, environment and wealth. Our goal as Catholics should be wholeness — which also means holiness. So often we feel drained or inadequate in one of these arenas, and subsequently we are not able to contribute our gifts to the world, even — and most importantly — to our family and friends.
Yes, all these arenas are interconnected. When I don’t prioritize my spiritual health by going to confession monthly, my mental health deteriorates, which impacts my relationships, my health and my work life. I am unable to bring all of myself to the life God has given me because I’m working from a state of depletion.
If any of this sounds familiar, maybe you, too, are feeling the heaviness of a long-overdue confession. So run to the nearest church and pour your heart out to the Trinity, who wants to bring you healing and rejuvenate your soul. For if we are the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to be our best self for the rest of the Church and the world. So pursue wholeness and holiness, and then bring your light to the world.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.