Confession is like a rollercoaster ride. You wait in line with other people, sometimes for up to half an hour or more (a good problem to have, in this case). And as you inch closer and closer to the start of the line, you feel the nerves kick in. Your heart beats faster and faster until all you hear are your thoughts and your blood pumping through your veins.
No matter how prepared I am for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, no matter how many times I re-read the Examination of Conscience, I still get nervous while waiting in line. Maybe it’s the suspense of not knowing exactly when my turn will be, the paranoia of seeing someone I know in line, or the fear that what I say or how I say it will somehow exclude me from forgiveness.
Outside of the confessional, I know these are the lies the enemy tells to keep us from receiving Jesus’ mercy. The irony is that when I’m miles away from Confession, I can rebuke these lies and lean into the gentle mercy of Christ; however, when I’m but inches away from Him, it’s much harder to silence. If you’ve ever encountered this spiritual warfare before going to Confession, know that you are not alone.
“As fast as your heart is beating out of nervousness to meet me, is how fast mine is beating out of excitement to reunite with you.” A quiet voice whispered this to me while I was waiting in line for Confession, experiencing the classic rollercoaster of emotions. This reminded me of the very real and powerful mercy of Jesus.
Whenever we go to Confession to repent of our shortcomings and failures, Jesus, too, feels His heart beat faster and faster and His blood pumping through His veins. But He doesn’t feel that out of anxiety or doubt: He feels it out of excitement and love.
Don’t you see? Jesus desires for us to be with Him, always. When we falter and turn away from God, He is the Father preparing a feast for His son or daughter, believing that one day His prodigal child will come back to Him.
Pope Francis has dedicated the month of March to pray for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
: “That we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the forgiveness and infinite mercy of God. And [...] that God may give his Church merciful priests and not torturers.”
So, keep your heart open when you’re preparing and waiting for Confession. And if that should welcome any nervousness and doubt, widen the door of your heart even more because pretty soon you’ll be face to face with Love itself, ready to melt away those fears and call you His beloved once more.