Tuesday, June 27, 2006
There are 7 of 'em....
Deadly sins, that is:
And the worst one:
As I prepare for my Sacrament of Reconciliation, I have been thinking about how my sins fall into these catagories. Resentment? Probably fits pretty well into the wrath catagory. Or, depending on who I am resenting, might be envy, too.
Gluttony is an easy one. So is sloth. Both of which will get a lot of air time next week.
Lust is probably the most embarrassing one, but I am trying to be fearless about his whole process, so yes, it gets it's fair share.
A former catholic friend was quite taken aback when I told her I was going to make a confession next week. First, she didn't know that Episcopalians could do such a thing. Second, the idea of a life confession seemed overwhelming to her, since she remembers the level of detail in the ones she made as a second grader. She joked that my priest better bring a pillow!
But her big question was the reason for doing it. Why?
She has done a lot of work with personal growth, so I explained that this was sort of the religious equivalent of doing a personal inventory. It is an opportunity to take responsibility for my own part in the painful situations in my life.
But with confession, there is more. It is more than just a sympathetic and unjudging ear. It is an ordained priest granting absolution on behalf of God. Could God forgive me directly? Of course, and has. But this is an exercise wherein I am speaking my sins, out loud, to another person. It is a kind of spiritual transparency that peels away the layers under which I have hidden and exposes, once and for all, the truth. The truth that I have known all along: I am a sinner. And God simply adores me anyway. What a miracle.
In some ways, this would have been easier if I went to a stranger to confess. There would have been less fear around it, I think. I probably could have arranged that if I had chosen to. But confessing to someone I am going to see again is taking this to a whole other level of trust and commitment. It is requiring that I trust him, the process and the structure that the church has refined over hundreds of years. In weighing whether to do it this way, I thought of cloistered nuns, who knew their confessors for years, sometimes. They couldn't pretend that the man behind the curtain was a stranger. They just had to swallow their pride and fear and open their hearts. That is sort of where I am with this.
So, I make a list. Ask God to bring stuff to the surface that needs to be swept clear and pray that my sin of pride doesn't get in the way of scrupulous honesty.