One for the Catholics: Talk To Me About Confession

Passiontide - Penance
Passiontide – Penance (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

I have a question for you today, my Catholic readers. What is your experience of the sacrament of Reconciliation?

See, I have this vision of the sacrament, in which it can be so much more than it generally turns out to be. In my vision, it’s a back and forth, a conversation that takes the confessor’s training and wisdom and meshes with my questions and insights (such as they are) in order to guide my journey forward with a penance that helps to direct that journey.

In reality, Confession is usually awkward and perfunctory. I rattle off a list and am given a penance that involves a couple of Hail Mary’s or a prayer that requires basically no sacrifice at all, and thus seems inadequate for helping me overcome the habitual sins I keep bringing to the confessional.

As I write, I realize how much what I’m actually looking for is spiritual direction and not the sacrament of Reconciliation at all. I also know the grace of the sacrament is not dependent upon the level of my emotional fulfillment.

Still, I’m curious: am I the only one who wants more out of Reconciliation than I ever feel like I get? Is my problem with Reconciliation my own fault? Is it perfunctory because something about my approach makes it that way? Is there another way to present your sins than rattling off a list? Those of you who have a regular confessor, how did you begin and develop that relationship, and how does it work?

The floor’s open.