The Heart of Confession
Note: the following article has been written from a Roman Catholic perspective, where confession is one of many traditional practices. This is simply an expression of one's desire to reconcile with God despite sin and weakness - a desire expressed in some way in all Christian churches across the world.
I distinctly remember one particular Lent a few years back. A priest belonging to the Redemptorist
order visited our local church to deliver sermons over three evenings. He spoke about the sacrament
of confession and all the graces that it has to offer to anyone who comes seeking. In the midst of his
preaching, in what seemed like a Spirit-prompted moment, he stepped down from the pulpit and
moved closer to the congregation. He then knelt down and asked the people for forgiveness for all
the times they did not receive the grace and compassion of Christ during confession. He apologised
for every single time that the clergy made them feel shame or guilt over the past.
I remember being so moved in that moment that I couldn’t get myself to turn to my neighbour to
see if they were feeling the same tug on their heart. At the end of the service, I was convinced that
every single person in the church felt that reminder of who God really is to us and what His presence in the sacrament of confession ought to look like, even if we’ve had unpleasant experiences.
The way I approached the confessional changed from that very moment. Sitting beneath the wide-
spread branches of a tree whose leaves gently swayed and allowed the soft evening rays of the sun
to shed its light on my face much like the swaying of my soul towards the light of truth that has been
warped in countless ways in our Christian culture.
As I sat there, I thought of the ones aching for a glimpse of the God we so loudly preach, but seldom
live like. I thought of the ones holding their wounds close, afraid of being seen, and at the same time
wanting just that, to be seen in all their muck and to still feel held. Of how we fail to be tender with
these injuries and instead leave them feeling worse than when they arrived. I thought of the ones
struggling to talk about their shame at the things they’ve done, longing for a word of restoration for
their marred souls, only to be made to feel like they had done too much or gone too far because we
haven’t fully grasped the universal truth that we are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of