Mercy Minutes #29

A reflection on question 11 from the pastoral letter by Kristin Molitor, marriage course and Fully Engaged coordinator.

A woman sits on a wooden chair and prays to God.

Q. What does the sacrament of reconciliation mean to you?

As I reflected long and hard about this question, I began to think that perhaps a more fitting title for this Mercy Minute would be “My Confessions of Confession.”

As a cradle Catholic who frequents the sacrament of reconciliation, I wish I could say that I’m now used to going to confession and that it’s easy, but it’s not.

After over 20 years of confessing my sins, I still have frantic thoughts that run through my head as I stand in the confessional line. Sometimes I have prayed, “Lord, last time my sins weren’t too bad, but this time I have some doozies! I can’t go in there. What if my sins are so bad I give the priest a heart attack? Wait, what if I get a heart attack? Or worse than a heart attack: what if I get yelled at?”

Sometimes the thought of confessing our sins can indeed paralyze us with fear! 1 John 4:18 reminds us that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

But how can we be so sure of this love? How can we be confident that Christ will not reject us when we expose our heart to him in the sacrament of reconciliation?

As I prayed with these questions the Lord reminded me that I can be vulnerable with him without fear because he has first made himself vulnerable to me. Vulnerable as a small, helpless baby in Bethlehem. Vulnerable on the cross as he struggled to gasp for his last breath, and vulnerable as he, the King of the Universe, rests in the palm of my small, dirty hand.

I have heard it said that the word “intimacy” means “into me see”. When we allow the Lord to peer into our hearts, he in turn allows us to peer into his. What does his heart reveal? Mercy.

So what does the sacrament of reconciliation mean to me? Intimacy. Even in the rawest and hardest of confessions, the sacrament means intimacy: letting Jesus gaze into my heart, and he, in turn, letting me gaze into his.​