I had a conversation yesterday afternoon with my friend Lynn about the value of the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation and about confession in general.
As important as the sacrament of Reconciliation is (and I’ve written on that subject before), there is a role for confession outside of the sacrament as well as within. We not only need to confess our sins to God, but to each other. (I’ll be talking more about the relationship between these two in several weeks at one of our Weekly Manna sessions.)
As I was thinking about the subject last night, I opened up Shane Claiborne’s A Common Prayer. And, lo and behold, the note following the prayer for yesterday was on the subject of confession. He writes
Confessional prayer assumes that our worship takes place in a deeply flawed community. The church hs always been a worrisome and dysfunctional place. But by grace we can take small step to restore trust. Maybe it is writing a note to someone we have offended or calling up someone we have murmured to (or about) and asking for their forgiveness. Maybe it means each week choosing to do something nice for someone its hard for you to like. Sometimes we call this “doing penance.” It’s not that we have to do an act of penance to earn God’s grace; it’s the opposite – because we have experienced Gods grace, we can’t help but do some act of grace toward another person.
The note reminds us how important our experience of God’s forgiveness is. We can’t move forward in our relationship to ourself or our relationships with others without the experience. And if we really do experience it, it “cant’ help but” affect our actions toward each other.