Unmasking Pride in the Confessional

By Marc Massery

View the previous Discovering the Diary.

Turn to any page of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and you find spiritual gems. Like this one:

A soul does not benefit as it should from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble. Pride keeps it in darkness. The soul neither knows how, nor is it willing, to probe with precision the depths of its own misery. It puts on a mask and avoids everything that might bring it recovery (113).

If we want to grow closer to God, we need the Sacrament of Confession. But we must do more than merely go through the motions. We have to approach this Sacrament with humility.

In fact, if in our pride we willingly and knowingly refuse to confess a mortal sin, we cannot receive the grace Confession offers, even if the priest gives us absolution.

Therefore, in order to approach the Sacrament of Confession with humility, we should probe "with precision" the depths of our own misery.

This means that Confession begins before we head to the Sacrament, in private prayer. Before we confess, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our sins to us. We can refer to a Church-approved examination of conscience to aid us. In fact, it's a good practice to examine our consciences every evening because even refusing to confess lesser sins when we approach the Sacrament prevents us from receiving the fullness of the grace and healing we can receive.

The Truth Will Set You Free
Some of us find it especially difficult to garner the courage to silently examine our past, never mind having to tell a priest about what we've done. Sometimes, we think what we have done is too unforgivable or too embarrassing to confess. Or worse, we've plunged ourselves so deeply into the ways of the world that we lack the necessary remorse needed to repent in the first place.

When we refuse to acknowledge our sins, in our misery, we'll inevitably find alternative ways to cope. This usually involves avoiding the truth by donning a mask, as St. Faustina says. When we hide from the truth of ourselves, when we ignore or merely nurse the wounds that sin has inflicted upon us - the wounds that only Christ can heal - we miss out on the amazing plans God has in store for us.

Sometimes, the truth scares us, and as the saying goes, it often hurts. However, no matter how painful, frightening, or humiliating the truth might seem, only the truth, through the grace of the Sacrament of Confession, can set us free.

My prayer: Holy Spirit, grant me the light to see myself as You see me and the grace to be truly contrite for all my sins. Help me to make a good Confession, and give my confessor the grace to worthily and compassionately administer this healing Sacrament.

For more information on how to approach the Sacrament of Confession, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Confession resources.

View the next Discovering the Diary.

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