Place of Victory
Father Mike Schmitz is director of ministry to youth and young adults in the Diocese of Duluth, MN. He recently spoke about the wonderful gift of the sacrament of confession/penance/reconciliation to the NCRegister:
“What is it like to sit in the confessional?
It’s one of the best places in the world. Even if someone comes in and doesn’t know what to do, that’s never a problem. A lot stay away because they say they forgot how to go to confession. Or the fact they don’t know the Act of Contrition is going to keep them away. I say, ‘Go in and tell the priest. He’s going to help you out and not say you’re an idiot.’ It’s a joy not only because of the power of the sacrament, but the ability to meet people looking for grace.
What keeps people away from confession?
We have it backward. So many people see the confessional as a place of defeat, but confession is a place of victory every single time. It’s a place where I acknowledge sin has beaten me, but I’m letting Jesus win. A lot of times we go to confession to convince God to give us one more chance: ‘I’m sorry; I promise I won’t do it again.’ But what’s actually happening in confession? Every person who prays only prays in response to God’s invitation. It’s God who moves first. He always calls first. That means every time you and I go to confession it’s a response to God inviting us to confession. In confession you say, ‘God, I give you permission to give me your mercy, to love me and to forgive me.’ He’s the one saying, ‘Give me a chance.’
How does pride hinder people?
(We don’t) understand the power of pride, the awfulness of pride, the power pride has to convince people they don’t need God. It has that power. Among believers it has the incredible ability to get them to disqualify themselves, saying things like, ‘I need God’s mercy so much, but I don’t deserve it. If I was better, I would be more deserving of God’s mercy.’ Pride tries to convince people they should be better and therefore are not worthy. It’s a backwards thing. Some people have goals in their spiritual lives that they want to become so holy they no longer have to rely on God’s mercy so much. So many say, ‘I’m so embarrassed to say this — so embarrassed by my anger, lust, gluttony.’ But we ought to be embarrassed by our pride more than anything else. If we show up, we’re in the process of killing that pride. God gives us a gift and hope. Therefore, use it.”