The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Let me start by saying that for me, going to Confession is like going to the car wash. You might be asking yourself, “What?” I get that. Hear me out.

So I know some of you really love to go to the car wash and clean. Let me say that while I respect you and wish I were more like that, I am not. For me it is a chore that requires a moment of magic motivation. St. Theresa of Calcutta said Jesus is among the pots and pans, and for me He’s also at the car wash. While I don’t like going, I always feel better than when I got there.

Same thing with the gym. You may not feel like going, but once you do, you are always going to feel better. You might even ask yourself afterwards why you pushed so hard against going.

I love going to Confession. This has not always been true. For one thing, its embarrassing and sometimes downright humiliating depending on what you have done. I find the longer I go between Confessions, probably the worse the sins. That makes sense, because the less grace we receive, the greater the temptations feel, and thus the more likely we are to fall into sin.

Look, we all have our vices. There are mortal sins and venial sins. For those of you that may not know what that means, it is basically mortal sins are bigger and venial are smaller. Mortal sins kill the life of grace in our souls, thus breaking our relationship with God and must be confessed, as soon as possible. Venial sins are more like wounds; they are good to confess but they do not carry the same weight.

Mortal Sins for me are the ones where you know they are wrong, and you do them anyway. Then cue the shame and guilt which we all are going to feel after. In my experience, one of two things happens. Either you want to stand in line and get to confession first (as though you were waiting for ticket to a favorite artist whose shows are going to sell out, or you are in the complete opposite boat where it feels like your feet are literally made of lead and you would rather go to a mean dentist who is cranky and tired and in the mood to inflict pain. I have been there, too. 

The first experience, of wanting to go while it’s hard to admit we did something knowing it was wrong, is still freeing because you hopefully feel God’s grace and mercy, and even if you don’t, you know it is there. The latter for me makes it more likely that I will double down and sin more, which makes it worse. The longer we put things off, usually the worse they get and the harder they are to fix. Like spring cleaning that you put off for two springs. Yes, I have done that too.

The longer we put things off, usually the worse they get and the harder they are to fix. Like spring cleaning that you put off for two springs.

julie mouton

I was recently reminded that priests are the Hands and Heart of Jesus. In other words, the priest is there, but the grace and forgiveness come directly from Jesus. At first that can seem intimidating. It would be like meeting some super celebrity or influencer; it would be normal to have butterflies and nerves.

I have come to see it very differently. He is the most loving and merciful Person that ever was and ever will be, because he chose to become like all of us.

I totally understand how hard it is to admit when we are wrong. Here is why I now love it and know it makes Jesus so happy. Doesn’t it feel good when someone hurts you and gives a sincere apology? Not “I am sorry you felt that way.” Or the non-apology apology where they gaslight you or somehow make it your fault. That adds insult to injury. Oh, and also for them not to say simply sorry and keep doing the same thing over and over because then the apology feels more like lip service.

I am talking about where you feel that person A, understands what they did was wrong, and B, they really care that it hurt you. Isn’t that all we really want? It is so rare and special for someone to truly apologize that it is something to truly savor.

Jesus savors us saying we are sorry. It makes His sacrifice have meaning for you personally. He destroyed sin and conquered death, which nobody else has done. Some have Cheated death (well, until they didn’t). He conquered it.

I would say that he earned bragging rights, yet he doesn’t brag. He wasn’t walking to Calvary going, “I am about to beat death!” He was sorrowful unto death because he knew some would choose to kill their souls through sin, and because of their own lack of repentance He couldn’t save them. Can you imagine giving the biggest sacrifice for someone you love and them being like, “Ah, that was nice of you, but no thanks”?

He gave his life for us, and all he asks in return is that we love Him and others. Now, I find loving Him is easy. Others, not so much. Have you ever been to Walmart, or been in a car? I accept and embrace my flawed humanity because every time is a chance to start over.

When it comes to sin, Our Lord has a very short-term memory, meaning all He wants is a sincere apology and for us to really mean we will avoid the near occasion of sin, not meaning that we will be perfect but that with His grace we will try to do better.

Not only that, but the grace He gives is like a life raft to help us do better. If the Rock wanted to give you workout advice, wouldn’t you take it? Our Lord knows how to be a better human because he was perfectly, sinlessly human. That is way cooler than any Superhero. He is better than Team Marvel or DC. He is the real deal.

If you’re reading this as a fallen human, it is highly unlikely that you will confess a sin the priest has never heard before. And he probably won’t remember it, anyway. When you watch your favorite show or video do you remember every ad you saw? Probably not. Neither does he. Plus, sin is far more boring than your favorite show. Priests hear a lot of confessions and tend to focus more on forgiveness for our sins than the sin itself. I have never had a priest mirror the horrified look that I feel inside about my own sins.

On a personal note, if you have gone to confession and had a bad experience where you felt shamed, understand priests are humans, too. Focus on the love and mercy that Jesus gives us, forgive him, and do not let it prevent you from going back. Pray for that priest, that he would be the Hands and Heart of Christ and reflect the gentle, loving, merciful grace that Jesus gives us in the gift of Confession.

Bring your soul to the carwash to get cleaned with his mercy.

Julie Mouton, LCSW-S is a graduate of the Louisiana State University of Social Work. She has been working in health and wellness for the past thirteen years. She has been a Certified Life Coach since 2012. Julie specializes in helping women to see their worth beyond weight and wounds. She loves to help women to become empowered by helping them to discover their truth worth and to encourage and inspire them to create a life they love and to feel at peace with themselves and their bodies.

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