confession3I am blogging from Phoenix, Arizona where I’m speaking at a Marian Conference, and it was my joy last night to spend a couple of hours hearing confessions.

There are nearly a thousand people signed up for the conference and all around the room were long lines of ordinary people wanting to make their confession.

In seeing this I thought of the sheer practicality, dignity and grace of this beautiful sacrament.

Here were probably five or six hundred people who had the opportunity for someone to listen to them. They were able to see a professional carer at no cost. They were able to consult with (hopefully) a wise, cheerful, well trained man who even for a couple of minutes would give them his undivided attention, help them see things more clearly, point the way through the thicket of their problems and assure them that they were loved and accepted for who they are.

This is not some sort of shallow self help pep rally, but a down to earth, dignified, simple and personal connection for ordinary people. They don’t need umpteen sessions of psychoanalysis. They don’t need expensive treatments. They just need a bit of help, a bit of guidance, a bit of forgiveness, a bit of attention, a bit of love.

These were ordinary people with ordinary broken hearts, broken marriages, broken relationships, broken lives and broken hopes. These were ordinary folks who wouldn’t normally run to see someone with their problems full of self pity. Instead they were doing the best they can, seeking God, seeking holiness, seeking happiness, seeking all that is beautiful, good and true.

But of course, confession is more than therapy for people with low self esteem.

On the contrary, these were not humiliated people groveling before a fearsome God. They were people with great dignity and maturity, for one of the most dignified and fully human things you can do is to admit you are not totally together and you need help. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and self reliance and true self respect to say, “I can do better than that.” It is a full human and mature thing to say, “I am better than that, and I’m going to find forgiveness and pick myself up and try again and if I need to–to get some help.”

Everybody who has ever become great and done great things has come to that point.  Continue Reading