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Things I Wish I’d Blogged in `08: Confession

January 6, 2009

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been twenty-nine years since my last confession.” Yep, this advent I received the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time since the last time I was made to at the Catholic high school I attended. I didn’t ask my Confessor, but I presume I had the record — at least for the week.

What brought me back after all these years? My 8-year-old daughter is nervous about her upcoming first reconciliation, and I wanted to reassure her. And it seems wrong to ask your children to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.

What kept me away? The memory of the banal childishness of being made to do it in Catholic high school,  part my long alienation from a suburban Catholic Church deeply complicit with some of the worst aspects of American society. (I began to write about in my very first post, but never followed up.) In examining my conscience, one of the biggest things to come to grips with in some 29 years of un-reconciled sinning was my broken relationship to the Church. My conclusion is that my estrangement from the Church was not a sin, was understandable and perhaps even appropriate given my experience. But it was wrong to give up on the Church, and as it came between me and God, it was a sin. Of that I repent.

How was it? Good. My Confessor gave me a wise and surprising penance. If you have not been to confession for a long time, perhaps for the same sorts of reasons, find a priest you trust and go. You can go as an adult now. It’s not dark It’s not about shame. Going back reminded me of why I am glad to be a Catholic.


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