Is Confession Really Good For the Soul?

Here’s a riff on a question that lots of folks tend to ask when they find out exactly which Christian tradition I belong to. “Oh,” they say, “that’s like being [Roman] Catholic. Do you guys have to go to confession?”

Answer: none must, all can, some should.

“Confession” as broadly (mis)understood by most of the culture is one half of a rite in the church that is better known as “reconcilliation.” Whether practiced alone as seems to be Jesus’ preference, in a group as a part of the Sunday liturgy or in private in a one-on-one meeting with your confessor, simply stating your sins not gets you half way there.

“Right!” you’re thinking, “there’s also self-flaggelation and praying of ‘Hail Mary-s.”

Not right.

The second half of reconcilliation is the receiving of Gods forgiveness, which, believe me, can often be more difficult than repeating a few prayers or even waring a hair shirt. Without it, however, the whole rite falls apart. One has simply spouted ones misdeeds and promised to do better without receiving the one thing that can actually empower them to amend their lives. It’s kind of like going to all he trouble of driving to the restraunt and ordering the food, then walking away hungry before the waiter brings you anything to eat.

Yes, acts of penance can be a part of the process. I think that movies and television have traditionally made to much of these. So, I’ll leave them to a future post for consideration. For the moment, suffice it to say that my tradition practices confession AND absolution – together called ‘reconcilliation.’ And there’s probably a chance you should, too.

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