When Confessing is Distressing

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary, and you’ll find spiritual gems like this one in which Jesus says:

For you, I am mercy itself; therefore, I ask you to offer Me your misery and this very helplessness of yours and, in this way, you will delight My Heart (Diary, 1775).

Despite what you might have heard, salvation isn’t free. Jesus asks us for something in exchange: our miseries.

What does Jesus mean when He asks for our miseries? He means our weaknesses, especially our sins. Now, we can ask for forgiveness from Jesus anytime in prayer. But we ought to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly (or at least once per year). 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins ... (1422).

Clearly, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great blessing. However, if you’re like me, going to Confession is nerve-wracking. My palms get sweaty. My heart skips a beat. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth the aggravation.

Then I remember what I get in exchange for confessing my sins: complete forgiveness and a chance at eternal happiness in Heaven. That’s worth any amount of aggravation on earth. If going to Confession is a struggle for you, know that you’re not alone. Even St. Faustina experienced distress when going to Confession. In fact, on more than one occasion, she wrote about Confession being a source of distress for her (for example, see Diary, 212-213).

When I plan to go to Confession, I find it helpful to write down my sins beforehand on a piece of scrap paper. Then when I approach the Sacrament, at least I don’t have the added aggravation of having to remember my sins. I also find it helpful to pray a Hail Mary for my confessor beforehand. Then I know that everything is truly in the Lord’s hands.

My prayer: Saint Faustina, I am a sinner in desperate need of God’s mercy. Please obtain for me the grace I need to properly discern my sins. May my confessor dispense the grace of this Sacrament worthily, and help me to obtain from this Sacrament whatever graces You want to give me.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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One sister said to me, “Get ready, Sister, to receive a small cross at the hands of Mother Superior. I feel sorry for you.” But as for me, I rejoiced at this in the depths of my soul.

Turn to any page of St. Faustina's Diary, and you'll find spiritual gems. 

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary and you’ll find spiritual gems. Like this one: