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.


SingingOwl said...

I like seeing your lovely face on your blog!

I found this fascinating. And I will be praying for you as you ponder what you will be sharing. I am another person who did not realize that Episcoplaiians did this--but I love your reasoning and comments about it.

Very much like a 5th step in A.A.

One of my seminary professors used to say, "...and the worst thing, is pride. It is spelled, p - r - big I - d - e . That stuck with me.


SpiritMists said...

I love the icons on your page.

What an amazing post, and I love the way you are approaching the rite. It strikes me that this kind of lifetime confession makes one, as you said, be totally honest; what a way to delve into spirituality at a greater depth.

I would love to read the post after this process!

Iohannes Michahel said...

Actus Caritatis

Domine Deus, amo te super omnia proximum meum propter te, quia tu es summum, infinitum, et perfectissimum bonum, omni dilectione dignum. In hac caritate vivere et mori statuo. Amen.

Actus Contritionis

DEUS meus, ex toto corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas
promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum. Amen.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, John, thanks for the latin texts! When does one use the act of Charity? I imagine the Act of Contrition comes at some point during the confession process. (It is also, incidentally, in slightly different form, part of our liturgy in the Episcopal church.)

I'll keep you all updated on this process. It has been very interesting to try and sort out. Today I am taking my few hours of precious solitude to start writing stuff down. (My mom is babysitting! LOL)

My confession is next Thursday.

e-Mom said...

What you are intending to do is completely biblical! Apparently, the Episcopal Church has (rightly) formalized a very simple Scriptural command. "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed." (James 5:16) I find it interesting that this verse comes with a promise. Apparently guilt is a stressor on the "mind-body" continuum, and illness is often the result. Here is a promise that if we are obedient to admit our faults, and ask forgiveness, then we will be made whole. You are bold and courageous, sister! I applaud this step of faith, and I'll check back for your impressions of next Thursday's session. GB.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...


One of the aspects I find very reassuring about this process is that at the end of the confession, after the absolution, the priest asks the penitent to pray for him- "a sinner". It reminds both of us that we are people sharing our struggle to live a Godly life. Somehow puts everything into perspective.

LutheranChik said...

Great post.

While a "fearless moral inventory" is something I do in my own heart...I've yet to make a personal, face-to-face confession with a confessor. Frankly, the idea of confessing to my pastor (who I'm sure would be happy to hear it) makes me uncomfortable -- not because he hasn't heard everything before, or because I'm trying to hide behind my persona...but I go back and forth about the wisdom of confessing to someone who's a friend as well as a spiritual mentor, or to someone with whom I have only a "professional" relationship in the context of spiritual formation. The question would be the same regarding picking a therapist -- would I want a therapist whom I also knew socially, or would a stranger be more objective? I appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Hi LC,

I am not sure I would have done this with my UU minister, to be honest. Not that there wasn't trust there, but it wouldn't have been a sacramental process. It would have been more along the lines of pastoral counciling. I am not really experiencing this as a therapeutic event. (Although that might be one of side effects.) In fact, most of what I am going to talk about I have already shared with a therapist or friends in the past. It is, rather, part of the whole transformation that is taking place... starting with baptism, confirmation, and now confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a much more private thing than, say, baptism... but I am joyful (if not a little scared) to be sharing it with someone I know and trust.

Now if only I could find the time to actually think about what I am going to say, LOL!

Kathryn said...

Rachel, sacramental confession is a WONDERFUL thing...I'm C of E, and we only have it quietly too,- but I find it a huge blessing. To hear those words of forgiveness out loud, after you've been dredging around in the messiest, murkiest places of yourself, is sheer gift.
I found myself up against the question of a well known confessor or a stranger earlier this year, when we had a clergy Quiet Day in the Cathedral in preparation for Lent/Holy Week/Easter. Confessions were being offered, and I spent some time during the morning preparing myself, only to walk into the appointed space to see that the two priests hearing confession were both known to me, and one of them was fast becoming a real friend. My instant reaction was to turn and bolt, but I was anxious not to take home all the garbage I'd been trying to clear, so I walked forward holding a conversation with God all the way to the altar..."I can't go to X. He'll simply not be able to cope with all this. But if I go to Y, what will that do in terms of complicating our friendship...". I simply didn't know till I found myself on the prie dieu which way I would turn...I found myself asking Y to hear my confession, - she was wonderfully helpful, and, partly as a result of that morning and some subsequent conversations she is just become my spiritual director too (I wasn't even thinking that the time had come for a change,- but God had other ideas there)...AND she manages absolutely and professionally to draw a line between the times when I visit her for direction (which will undoubtedly involve the sacrament of penance from time to time) and the times when I see her as a friend. It works. Guess that's part of the wonder of holy orders....something for infant clergy like me to look at and wonder!
Sorry..SUCH a long comment,- it ought perhaps to have been a post on my own blog...but you have my prayers as you approach this wonderful sacrament next week. Blessings

Sally said...

you are abrave lady, and in my prayers- I would echo Kathyrns thoughts (but wouldn't have put them so well)
God bless you in this.

Lorna said...

thanks for sharing this... I've be blessed by the comments too