Monday, April 18, 2011

When Is The Last Time You Went to Confession?

In high school I started to rebel against my parents. By my sophomore year I was in the party-hard crowd. By my senior year I was also a very good football player in addition to my partying. When I graduated high school my life revolved around my friends, beer, girls, and popularity. This carried over into college.

After entering Texas A&M, I was arrogant and confident on the outside, but these traits were hiding my dislike of who I was inside. I found a group of buddies who supported my search for beer and girls, because they were doing the same thing. My grades were poor, I was unhappy and life wasn’t very good. This triggered a grace I denied for too long deep in my soul. I wanted more in life, but didn’t know where to get it. I started to talk to some other young men in my dorm who I found interesting because they always seemed to have a good time, but didn’t party. They intrigued me with their lifestyle and joy.

This group of guys became some of my closest friends. They were a mixture of Catholics and Baptists. They didn’t like me all too much at first because I was too drunk and lazy for them. But, this still didn’t keep them from encouraging me to go back to church. I did this once in a while and had many seeds planted. One Sunday I attended and found out about a parish mission coming up the next week. I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to seem too Christian, so I went to third and final night only. That night, the priest told a story of how he failed to see Christ in an annoying homeless woman on a bus in New York City. After the story I thought to myself “if I were Fr., I would have beat the woman up” and this thought troubled me greatly. I found that I didn't like the person I had become.

Because of the Holy Spirit’s kicking me in the pants and my new friends’ encouragement I decided to attend a retreat at St. Mary's Catholic Center. I only did so because of the promise there would be many good-looking Catholic women there or at least that is what I told myself and others. It took two other friends going as well to finally get me there. I thought of backing out several times. But, I was at a point where I needed something and I was hoping I could get whatever it was from this place. I needed a change.

Once there I was taken aback by the fervor and zeal of all the “Jesus Freaks” and “Bible Thumpers”. I had never met Catholics like these people before. On Friday night of the retreat there was a talk about Confession and the need to repent of our sins. I was convicted that I was a sinner, but decided Confession was useless and I wasn’t going to go. I grew up thinking that Confession was about giving your laundry list of sins quickly and then getting it over with as fast as possible.

After the talk there was an examination of conscience. The examination went through the Ten Commandments and was geared toward college students. I think I could have checked every one of the hundreds of sins covered. This was an eye-opener for me and for some inexplicable reason I found myself walking to Confession. I didn’t want to go and still don’t know why I did, because I was scared, angry and confused all at the same time.

I waited in line for a priest I had never seen before or since. The waiting scared me more, because I had never gone to Confession with a priest face-to-face before. When I finally sat in front of the priest, I immediately started crying. The weight of all my sins hit me squarely between the eyes.

For the first time in my life I talked about all the sins I didn’t even want to confess to myself. It was both painful and amazingly beautiful. After the priest calmed me and told me about God’s love for me, I laid it all on the line and let my heart open up. This is where I had my initial conversion to Christ as an adult. This is the moment I allowed Christ to enter my life. After Confession, I felt like a new person and knelt in the chapel where I truly prayed to God for the first time. I told him I was now belonged to Him.

From that moment on, I have tried to live my life for Jesus. I became involved in my parish community, started to pray daily and go to Mass. From that moment I began my journey again from where I left off as a child. Christ welcomed me home with open arms. Of course the road has had it bumps and problems, but I still find Christ in going frequently to Confession, about once every couple of weeks.

My question to you is this - what are you waiting for?

Christ is waiting to hear your Confession, heal your wounds, forgive your sins, and walk closer with you.

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