Tuesday 21 April 2015

The other side of the grille

I first read this humbling and thought provoking article by a priest about his experience on the other side of the confessional some time ago but I came across it again today and thought it worth sharing because it serves as a wonderful reminder of why we often most need to go to confession at those times we least want to.

Getting hung up on the sinfulness of sin -- the shameful, petty, sordid nature of sin -- is an easy pitfall. It's what makes us despair - small daily habitual sins are so tawdry they grind us down and the wretched baseness of larger sins convinces us to lose hope. In both cases the temptation is to avoid - or delay - going to confession. We become weighed down by the sin itself, which blots out our memory of Our Lord's love and mercy that we so desperately need at those moments of despondency.

I think that this is precisely what is meant by the glamour of sin as professed in our Baptismal vows. These days we associate glamour with celebrity (think a glamorous film premiere) or with the demi-mondaine (think "glamour models"). In both cases glamour denotes something with a quality that separates it from ordinary life. Sin exists in a parallel shadow world, and its tentacles work to keep us there wallowing in our failings, luring us further away from the good that God has given us, away from the light. Extracting ourselves from the unhappy magnetism of sin is the key: get to confession, whatever it takes.

As Fr Mike Schmitz reminds us, "Confession is always a place of victory. Whether you have confessed a particular sin for the first time, or if this is the 12,001st time, every Confession is a win for Jesus".  Amen to that and please remember to say a prayer to thank God for those priests who in the footsteps of St Jean-Marie Vianney spend hours of their lives on the other side of the grille for the good of our immortal souls.