This Sunday, as we conclude our series on Christian sacraments and rituals, we come to confession.
The Catholic tradition includes confession to a priest. For centuries Catholics have confessed very specific sins to a priest in confidential conversation.
Most Protestants are horrified– and intrigued — by such frank confession! But it’s a regular experience by our Catholic brothers and sisters. And their priests have heard it all. As one priest wrote on his blog, “The truth is, sins aren’t all that impressive. They aren’t like memorable sunsets or meteor showers or super-intriguing movies… they are more like the garbage. . . If you ask a garbageman about the gross-est thing he’s ever had to haul to the dump, maaaaaaybe he could remember it. But the fact is, once you get used to taking out the trash, it ceases to be noteworthy, it ceases to stand out.” (Father Mike Schmitz, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth, MN)
Confession might seem peculiar to us Protestants. But when we think back on our own times of greatest learning and progress, haven’t they been when we faced our errors and resolved to take a restorative path? We may not have had a confessional booth, but we followed the same spiritual process as our Catholic friends.
Facing our errors happens not only in the spiritual world. It is essential to progress in government, business, academia and medicine. Facing our errors is the engine for transforming ourselves – and the world. Philosophers have argued that paying deep attention to ”things not fitting,” as well as our more obvious mistakes, is the foundation for all learning.
This Sunday we explore the essential spiritual practice of confession. May our service prepare you for the approaching season of Lent, where we face our sins for six week before the loving gaze of Jesus.