Are You Afraid of Reconciliation?
Admittedly, the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been poorly explained and poorly experienced.
It developed as this exercise of listing all our dirty little secrets and carried with it the baggage of publicly announcing our badness for all to see.
That is truly unfortunate. It undermines the essence of the sacrament and keeps us from experiencing a wonderful, grace-filled event.
In fact, if we can see any of our "dirty little secrets", it is because God brings them to light so that we can be set free from them. Reconciliation is actually all about freedom. By naming those things in our lives that have power over us, inner motivations like fear, selfishness, jealously and the like, naming them gives us power over them. Power over them leads us to be able to begin to control them rather than them controlling us.
Celebrating the Sacrament is a great way of unburdening things of which we may not even have been aware. It is an act of being set free.
But to do it right, there is a bit of preparation work to help make if fruitful. We must take a bit of time and reflection, look at those things that we have done, and then ask ourselves why we have done that. Until we begin to understand why we do what we do, we will always be slaves to our motivations. Usually the actions we confess are merely symptons of a deeper reality and so we need to delve deep into the whys. One spiritual director indicated that we need to ask ourselves 'why' at least 10 times to approach the true reason behind our actions.
So the Church offers us two seasons of preparation, Advent & Lent. It is an invitation to make our lives better, fuller and more abundant. So muster the courage, sit in quiet, and come revel in God's gift of freedom.