Sacrament of Confession
It may surprise some that, as someone who grew up Catholic, confession was something I saw more on television and movies than I practiced in real life. That was partially due to how often my family moved from one place to the next, and partially due to my own fear.
I remember my first confession almost like a movie. What I remember most was how disappointed I was that instead of those cool wooden booths with the sliding door and the screen that I thought it was going to be, it was just a room with two folding chairs and a curtain. Father O'Shea had to explain to me that confession could be taken anywhere but people often felt more comfortable with something that could cover their shame. Being the teacher he was, Father O'Shea recognized my confusion and instead forwent the curtain so we could sit face to face. Since I was young and not sure exactly what I should be asking forgiveness for, Father O'Shea explained it as anything I felt sorry for. At the time there wasn't much (boy did that change with time) so I just said I was sorry that if there was anything I forgot about, I was sorry that I wasn't sorry. Father O'Shea thought that was wonderful, and had a good laugh.
As I grew older, and went to college, there were plenty of things I felt sorry for. On a near-daily basis I found more and more to feel sorry for. Yet I didn't confess to my sins very often. You see, Father O'Shea had also explained that he wasn't the one absolving me of my sins, he was only there to help because confession is often hard to do alone, and without guidance. He used to say he was more like a telephone;, sure I could pray for forgiveness on my own, much like writing a letter, but the help I needed could be given clearer and faster with his help. With that in mind I usually just prayed on my own for forgiveness, because I thought it would be better to "cut out the middleman."
Then life did what it does best and got complicated. I found myself in more and more morally questionable situations. I became so familiar with carrying my burdens with me that it almost felt like I wouldn't be me if I didn't carry that weight anymore. What would keep me in check if not the guilt of my past actions? I didn't want to be absolved because I had convinced myself that I was better off being burdened. Years later, I went back to the Catholic Church. I went through the sacrament of confession and it helped...for a time. I say that because --confession time -- I still catch myself carrying unnecessary burdens even today. Force of habit I guess.
I personally see why confession is good for the soul, and why it is a sacrament, but to quote one of my favorite lyrics ever, "Won't it be dull when we rid ourselves of all these demons haunting us, to keep us company?"* What do you do when you are so comfortable in your burdened state that you don't want to confess? Well I guess the obvious answer is confession, but that is so much easier said than done.
I apologise to anyone hoping for a happy ending with a clear answer wrapped with a bow. If I could give you a better answer I would, but this is all I got.
I want to be clear, I am happier now than I have ever been in my entire life so please don't think that I am in a constant guilt spiral, or that I am deeply depressed. Just know that like many of you, I have my own things to figure out and work through. Knowing that I have the Imago community to turn to is a tremendous comfort, and I hope they know how appreciative I am to have them.
*Song lyrics from War on Drugs, performed by the Barenaked Ladies, written by Ed Robertson and Stephen Page.
Jay Rudd is a father, husband, dog owner, cat roommate, and art/technology teacher (K-8) for the IVC School District. He is very new to Imago, but is eager to get involved and help out when he can. He loves his family, drawing, painting, all kinds of music (except country), video games, and of course, comic books. Feel free to talk to him about anything and everything (except country music).