Reconciliation: My 1st Trip to Confession
As I have stated in previous entries, I used to attack the Catholic church with relentless fervor. In doing so, Confession was a popular angle for my attacks. The idea of having to confess the sins of a man to another man to receive reconciliation seemed ridiculous and hypocritical. Man is flawed and has been since Adam and Eve turned away from God in the Garden of Eden.
Without revealing too much regarding my previous stance on reconciliation and confession or my thoughts surrounding during my conversion – I will stick mainly to my experience with Father Bart inside the confession booth. I will expand on these other topics down the road.
I was baptized on Pentecost in 2020 – so May 31st, 2020. The original date was sometime around Easter vigil however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the arrangements were postponed. As of today, it is August 21st, 2020. After nearly 3 months, I figured it was time to go to the booth.
We did not cover the process or operating procedures of confession during my RCIA class (classes required to convert or to confirm). After a few internet searches and YouTube videos I concluded that there was not a specific way to do it other than the traditional entry lines, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been ____ weeks since my last confession” and the, “Act of Contrition Prayer” at the end. Everything in between was going to be a gamble.
The FIRST Decision.
The first decision you must make is being seen by the Priest or not. In some confessionals, there is a kneeler shielded behind a wall or curtain where you will confess your sins through a dialogue with the Priest while maintaining anonymity. The other option is a kneeler that is not shielded and in direct view of the Priest. Due to this being my first time, I chose to be visible to the Priest. As my confidence and understanding of the process grows, I may choose to be shielded. I also chose to announce to Father Bart that this was my first confession and I would need assistance going through the process. He obliged.
Keep your fellow Parishioners in mind. The confession times before Mass are not very negotiable as the Priest will have to depart the Confession booth/room to prepare for Mass. There are probably multiple people seeking reconciliation before Mass to be in good standing to receive the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Do not be a jerk and hog all the confession time. There are days during the week where confession is available for longer periods of time. If you foresee needing a prolonged amount of time, then plan accordingly.
The SECOND Decision
The second decision you must make is confessing ALL your sins. This dabbles into the reason I now believe the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be of upmost importance. For example, as a man, it takes immense humility to admit to another man that I looked at pornography knowing it was a mortal sin. Admitting sins that force us to evaluate ourselves with shame is difficult and confessing ALL of them is a decision that you will have to make. Be advised, if you knowingly omit specific sins, it will annul the entire confession. I will finish this paragraph by saying this decision of yours has nothing to do with me, not the Priest. This decision is ultimately between you and God.
You will be given a penance to complete by the Priest. My penance for my first confession was to pray the sorrowful mystery portion of the Rosary. Which, personally – is my favorite mystery of the Rosary. Be sure to complete the penance for if you do not, it could void the entire confession.
Violenti Naturam. Praesentia Tranquillitas.