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Monday, April 11, 2005

The Sacrament Of Reconciliation.

These 4 words alone - although part and parcel of the Catholic church - often strikes fear deep in the hearts of even the bravest, macho-est men.

And women.

Why so?

I believe that apart from death, heights, slimy worms, and lawyers, a lot of us fear the most having to cough out our deepest, darkest wrongdoings in the presence of another human being.

In other words, being afraid of being looked down upon by other members of society.

In other words, putting our pride above other things.

More often than not, on top of God.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation I feel gives me that chance to really humble myself before God the Father who sees all things, even sins; by acknowledging my sinning ways and confessing my most personal failings, of which I would rather die first than have another person know.

For those not in the know, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacred ritual in the Catholic church where a person confesses his/her sins to God through a representative of His (usually a priest), and the sins are absolved.

Which then leads to the mandatory question:

Why confess your sins to a priest when you can commune with God directly?

The Bible - the Word of God - points out that Christ intended for us to seek forgiveness this way:
"...confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed"
-- James 5:16
...which clearly indicates confession to another person, and who better to confess to than a priest?

And,
"...they (the crowds) were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings."
-- Matthew 9:8
...which shows that God does indeed give a certain amount of authority to a certain amount of people for His greater glory, in this case His representative.

AND, to throw in one more,
"...he (Jesus) breathed on them (the apostles) and said to them, 'Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained'"
-- John 20:22
...in the words of Joanna Bogle, how could the apostles announce that sins are to be forgiven if they had no idea what people's sins were? How would there be forgiveness if sins went unmentioned?

******************

I used to really freak out when that time of the year came; when they announced in the SFX Diary that penitential services would be upcoming at a so-and-so place and a so-and-so time.

When I was young(er) - and dashing (still am) - I would conveniently “fall asleep” at home just before the service itself, in the hope that my family would leave for confession without me only for my dad to exclaim on the way to church: "Oh dear me, we left Aaron at home! Too late to turn back now, though. Oh well."

Fat hope.

They came to wake me up.

I even tried faking illness a few times: lamely belting out a few coughs here and there, with a sneeze thrown in for good measure; having "diarrhoea" when all I was doing was reading newspapers on the loo.

**Admittedly though, it worked, and I felt extremely guilty after that for having taken advantage of my grandparents' affinity for their grandchildren.**

These methods, of course, wore out after awhile, and I had to grudgingly follow my family for confession with severe palpitations of the heart.

This "grudginess" continued until I went for the Peninsular Malaysia Catholic Charismatic Convention '03, where I bumped into my uncle who was there as well. We were talking about family, what he'd been up to and the weather, when suddenly for no apparent reason (be it divine guidance) he mentioned something about him going for this talk after which he found no reason NOT to fear going for confession.

Strange as it may seem - he didn't have to describe the talk, or what the speaker had said, or even give me his life-changing testimony - just the casual mention that he went for the talk got me thinking: why was I terrified about going for confession?

I couldn't come up with a good answer.

That incident, coupled with my becoming affiliated with Lifeline and hence “getting excited about God" has changed my outlook on confession: since then, I have approached penitential services with almost zealousness, even being the one to tell my family - and remind them - about upcoming services.

I haven't got to the stage where I go for confession on a weekly basis (as the Pope does), but I now go for confession with renewed confidence (and the necessary nervousness of course), knowing that the cleansing it provides is essential for my spiritual growth, after having found it difficult - and in a way hypocritical - for me to serve the Lord with some nagging sins at the back of my mind.

After all, it's nearly impossible for the priest to remember exactly what you did after hearing out a hundred other people.

And, there's the (unhelpful) assurance that the priest cannot remember your sins due to the divine nature of the forgiveness.

Sure he can't.

9 Comments:

Blogger Celestine condemned as such...

I love your posts! :) Keep them comin'! :D

April 11, 2005  
Blogger chowkueyteow condemned as such...

Hi Celestine! The frequency of my posts is directly proportional to the amount of free time I have, and I'm currently on the first day of a 2 week holiday...thanks for dropping by yet again! =)

April 11, 2005  
Anonymous Ah Soon condemned as such...

Hmm.. the name of this site sounds oddly familiar.. Like someone's email address.. Hmm.. I wonder who's?

April 12, 2005  
Blogger chowkueyteow condemned as such...

Ah Ah Soon, alas, I join you in the odd wonder of familiarity...thanks for dropping by, though!

April 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous condemned as such...

Hello Aaron!
Thanks for the comment. I'm fine, dont worry. Leave it into God's hands I would say. Sorry for this late reply as I've been REALLY busy lately.

Good post btw. I think it did some good for me, as I've been questioning myself for quite sometime now, but I got no answers although I know that going for confession is a good thing and that we really should go. Besides that, a lot of my catholic and protestant friends kept bombarding questions about confession. I cant really answer them, as I dont know how to (the "i know,but I dont" kinda thing)but I did promise to get back to them, though. So after reading your blog, some things became clear to me and at least now, i have sort-of answers to explain to them. So, praise God! =)

Thank you for sharing, Aaron! It did help!

Anyway, see you at the ice-ring tomorrow!

God bless!

April 14, 2005  
Blogger chowkueyteow condemned as such...

Hi Janice! Praise God indeed! Do also check out:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Confession.asp

and

http://www.catholic.com/library/Forgiveness_of_Sins.asp

I did my "research" here =) A lot more information available than what I've put down...thanks for dropping by!

April 15, 2005  
Blogger germae condemned as such...

Hmmmmmm.....nice post. Very thought-provoking.

About the part where u mentioned the priest NOT being able to remember your sins, I won't fully concur with that.
Or at least, partly.
One time, the priest remembered me from confession the other day. All I could do was, well, smile in stunned silence. Hopefully he couldn't match the face to the sins.

Anywho, after reading this, I'm still wondering how to face penitential services with such enthusiasm. I lament at the thought of confession. Somehow.

April 19, 2005  
Blogger chowkueyteow condemned as such...

Hi Germae! That must have been the shock of a lifetime eh...well, it keeps you on your toes all the time and serves as a reminder not to repeat the sins, heh.

I guess that's the importance of being in a good Christian community (eg. Life Teen, ahem)...it does help you grow in faith tremendously. I've matured so much in my faith in so little time since joining Lifeline. Thanks for dropping by!

ps. - Happy Birthday!

April 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous condemned as such...

Confess ur sins to other person? And then that "other persons" confess to other persons? There will be a chain of Confessed Sins man. Confess is good thing but, what action that u need to do after u confess. Make sins---> confess----> make sins again --->confess. Priest is also human, make mistakes, make sins, so who is the noble, better person need to confess to?

August 26, 2005  

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