In recent time I incurred an injury that was akin to slowly and willingly walking into the sharpest of blades. Receiving that wound left my body and soul severed to the border of no return, and activated all the old wounds laid dormant under my scars. The worst pain though, was how I felt exiled from God, even though all of my theological training and experience of the mercy of God would reason the contrary. But such profound pain blurs one’s vision, and one’s human endurance, no matter how extensive, can only take a soul so far. Just when despair seems eternal, the last particle of courage rises forth in you who believes in your memories of just how much love God wishes to give you, and has given you. Above all, even in the darkest of days, I did not forget the goodness of God. What it tastes like, feels like, lives like. That stubborn refusal to forget is eventually what forced me to the doors of the Confessional, even though months before I would literally shake at the prospect. But I remembered my very first Confession I made as a Catholic when I was 26, something that was one of the most positive experiences of my life, and left me not only feeling like a new creature, but like I had come home to myself. It was a purity not yet experienced, whose divine origins my soul recognized immediately and fondly and said “more please.” I had never felt such literal and figurative weightlessness. I knew that goodness was real, and my desire for it exploded to the point where my fear was out-shined.
What is important is that once I set my mind on choosing what I knew was good for me, I did not allow myself to talk myself out of it. Refusing to let your mind play games of excuses is like taking a battleaxe to distraction, and bushwhacking your way straight to God, as one can do wonders in the spiritual life if they know how to slay that common barrier on the path of holiness. If one could speak in the 5 love languages when speaking of God, God sure does like “quality time” and knowing how to give your full attention to someone only reaps immense rewards. God sure loves to give His full attention to you!
The other grace of opening my heart to healing and turning from fear is that the parish around my block is open twice a day for Confession, even during the pandemic. You can even stay to pray in peace. So even if I wanted to conjure an excuse I just couldn’t, and I trudged my feet forth to what I knew was a fountain of healing for a drink. Once inside that coffin where the false self dies and wounds are exposed for healing, I revealed my heart only to encounter the same kindness and gentleness I have experienced in most of my Confessors. The memory of my first Confession was lived again, and as I got the words out despite blubbering thorough it and remaining steadfast in my vulnerability, I set my soul free through total honesty.
The personalized words I then received from this Confessor who was gentleness incarnate made sure I could never forget why I should never be scared to ask for mercy. His words surprised me and mirrored to me the beauty of honesty. No longer fearing to see something horribly wounded and grotesque, what I saw in the mirror after Confession was a child of God.
Forgetting how the Holy Spirit loves to dwell in houses of purity, what once seemed lost returned in full force like the right kind of lightning strike. No longer in exile, I could return to all the things that cultivated a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit and Our Lady. The Rosary in particular was returned to my life like a long-lost cure and my vision, once blurry came into crystal clear focus and I felt I could stare straight into the sun without getting burned.
This is how much Confession matters. What happens when you want it for real, and you’re so raw to the point where you don’t even realize how much you have surrendered to how much you need God. How in fearing justice, one can forget how endless is His mercy.
But from now on, I can’t forget. Neither should you.