Beyond Blue

“The sacrament of Reconciliation is a place to bring all of our chaos into contact with the healing love of the Lord Jesus,” writes Kathryn J. Hermes in her excellent book, “Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach.” Several people–even my therapist who is a lapsed Catholic–suggested I go to confession to relieve some of my guilt. I did go five years ago when Eric was baptized (it was required of him, so I went too). But, here’s the thing (I could be handcuffed by the USCCB for publishing this thought): confession doesn’t really do anything for me. To be completely candid, I’m a tad freaked out by it.

Do we Catholics really need seven sacraments? Couldn’t we get along just fine with six? (Pluto got demoted last year from the solar system after research found that the planet wasn’t up to snuff.)

I think the problem was that confession would relieve my guilt for about five minutes, at which time I’d come up with a new sin to confess. So in order for it to be fully effective, I’d pretty much have to set up camp in the dark phone booth, where the priest could instantly absolve me of my mistakes as they happen.

I understand the theology behind penance. Paragraph 980 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says, “It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized by reconciled with God and with the Church.” And then it pulls this paragraph from the Council of Trent (1551):

“Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers ‘a laborious kind of baptism.’ This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.”

It’s just that I prefer two-person conversations as opposed to three. Once you get a triangle going, something always gets lost in translation. I’m afraid the priest might botch it up and report to God that I killed a health-care insurance representative, not that I felt like killing a health-care insurance representative. Or if I confessed, in Jimmy Carter style, to an affair of the heart, Father Tim would forget “of the heart.” And why do I have to go through an interpretor to talk to God, anyway? We’ve always gotten along just fine, the two of us.

I know this sacrament has value. I know it’s really important. What can I say? I’m just not that into it, and I feel very guilty about that.

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