Leaving the country for a week with no access to any media, and then coming into a country that has gone into a panic is kind of scary. I turned off my phone and there was only 11 cases of corona, then I come back a week later and there are thousands. School has been canceled, many people like myself are not able to work, grocery stores are empty, and events are canceled. Somehow amidst all this chaos, I feel at total peace. I actually appreciate that America values the life of its people enough to shut things down for a while till things are more under control.
All this has me thinking though, what kind of panic would people be in if they could see the condition of our soul like we can our flesh. For many of us, there would be a stench of a long festering infection, blood pouring out, we would be fragile and malnourished. Lucky for us there’s hope. We have a savior who has come to break us from the bonds of death, and set us free. By His cross death and resurrection, has set us free. There’s only one condition ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’
And if we truly repent and believe then we should know that when our soul is sick with sin, we need to let God heal us through the sacrament of confession. Catholics always seem to want to avoid this sacrament, but I think it’s because the devil recognizes its power and will stop at nothing to make sure we do not go. Confession makes us one with our heavenly Father, it breaks the chain Satan has around our feet. Keep in mind that the sacrament of confession was created by Christ himself, and is not just something made up. Jesus told his disciples that he has sent his spirit down upon them so that the sins that they forgive will be forgiven by Him.
If that doesn’t convince you to go to confession even though it’s literally Jesus saying that, maybe a little testimony will. This week in Trinidad while I was on mission God put a lot of emphasis on confession in my heart. During the mission we lead a couple retreats for students, and the Holy Spirit was on the move, I saw hundreds of people go to confession, and for most of them it was the first time in a long time. There was one particular man I had become friends with in Trinidad, and Father Gabe was giving a talk about being made for a relationship with the Father, and he emphasized the importance of confession, and it really struck this young man’s heart. After the talk I asked him if he would like to go to confession, and he was like yeah I’ll go tomorrow. Then I sat there a few minutes, and the subject changed, but then I said “You telling me you’ll go tomorrow, is like you looking at me with a giant hole in your neck and telling me to take you to the hospital tomorrow.” He looked at me and said “Yeah you’re right” then after a little more discussion he went to confession for the first time in two years, and he came out with a big smile on his face.
This moment made think about all the people in my life who I love and wish that they would go to confession. It also reminded me of when I went for the first time in 4 years after dabbling in lots of mortal sin. It felt like I took off a bag of bricks. And when I received communion in the state of grace like we are supposed to I was able to fall more in love with my savior. People always tell me “I can’t do it, I’ll cry” or “This is between God and I.” Let me tell you one thing I’ve heard thousands of people’s testimonies of both men and women who have gone to confession for the first time and years including myself and they cried. And that’s OKAY. I remember one time going to confession about some heavy sins and crying about them, and the priest instead of dabbling on my sin like I thought he would, he asked “Woman why the tears?” and proceeded to give me words of comfort and peace, I felt like the woman at the well in that moment, and for penance he said “I want you to go sit before the monstrance and let Jesus tell you how beautiful you are.” So I did and I wept, because I realized in God’s eyes we are more beautiful then we could ever imagine.
GO TO CONFESSION! Feel the scales come off your eyes. People often act like it’s a walk of shame to go to confession. I felt that way too till I was at a conference and someone said walking into confession is like a bride walking down the aisle, she’s worried about messing up her makeup, and noticing all these little flaws, but then there’s the groom who is completely taken away with awe at her beauty. His heart is so entranced, he notices not a single flaw, and he is beyond excited to call this woman his. Jesus is the groom and you are the bride, and he looks at you and says “This one is mine.”
On top of all this I just want to share a turning point I had while in Trinidad. We had gone up to mount St. Benedict, which is a mountain where Benedictines live. I had been wrestling with some wounds in my heart, and had gone in to the chapel to pray, and then I just had this burning desire to go to confession. Not because I felt shame, but rather because that’s how badly I wanted to encounter Jesus. I continued to kneel there and cry because I felt like these wounds he had revealed were just bleeding out, and I desired so much to be with him at the foot of his cross like Mary, just clinging to it. Then I had collected myself and was still there kneeling, and Father Gabe knelt down and said something about he would be hearing confessions outside, but internally all I could hear was a voice say “I will see you now.” So I finished praying, then went outside and found Father standing on the edge of this embankment that faced another mountain. The wind was blowing against us, and it was like being surrounded by the power of the Holy Spirit. I confessed my sins, and when Father couldn’t hear the first thing I said, he had me repeat it. Which is such a minor detail, but I felt in my heart the Lord so intently wanting to listen to every word I had to say. And I could feel His gentle gaze in my heart. Then Father said the usual, but also asked that I just trust Jesus, and for penance go to our blessed Mother for guidance. There was nothing profound about anything I said or in what Father said, but for whatever reason I was moved to tears. God had given me the grace to recognize the beauty of what happens every single time I go to confession, and let me tell you it makes me just want to go tell the whole world to go to confession. The way that Jesus was so attentive to my heart, and the way he looked upon my soul, and washed it clean. I felt this closeness like never before. It reminded me of the transfiguration where the spirit of the Lord comes down in a cloud, saying this is my son with whom I am well pleased. I felt so captivated and totally surrounded exteriorly, but also so fulfilled interiorly. I felt seen. I felt loved. I felt forgiven.
I know that I’m not always going to feel this way when I go to confession, but I recognize that God gave me that special grace, and I will go forward knowing that is what happens every single time even though I cannot feel it. Oh how close He is to our hearts, oh how sweet His love. Praying for you all, stay safe, repent, and God bless you all. See you in the Eucharist.