The Sacrament of Confession actually works!

ImageI must admit, I am not a regular confession goer. I honestly forget most of the time, or I make excuses. “I’m too busy” “I don’t really need to go” “I’ll go next week” are often my go to phrases. When I teach about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I talk about how beautiful God’s grace is, how sinful we are, and how much we need to receive forgiveness from our Lord in the sacrament of penance. I always talk about how confession frees us from the bondage of sin, and restores us to communion with God.

I say all these things, but I don’t know if they really sunk in.

I make sure I go to confession at least one every few months, and sometimes if I feel guilt about a particular sin I will feel like I need confession. However, I always tell people ‘if you don’t go to confession often you will start to feel far from God’. I preached this, but I did not heed my own advice. So Senior year Fall semester is going by quickly, jam-packed with school, thesis writing, social events, and job applications. I never felt I did anything bad enough to accumulate enough guilt to make me feel like I had to go to confession. As time went on, I was feeling swallowed up by my life. I was overwhelmed by all the things I needed to keep up with, homework, exams, papers, household, work, relationships, rent, car insurance, life…. My prayer life was not at it’s peak, and I very suddenly realized what the problem was. I hadn’t been to confession in over 6 months.

This is how the Devil works. The devil is sneaky, he may not always come right out and smack you in the face with temptation. Sometimes he is slow and subtle. Without even alerting us to what is happening, he turns us away from God and toward much less important things. This effected the rest of my life. Everything was great, yes, nothing awful was happening, but I was feeling a little lost and very overwhelmed. It was like I was a magnet and everything in life was attaching itself to me, making me feel heavy and weighted down. This was causing me to be tense, and stressed.

Then I went to confession. It was like a switch turned off the magnetic field and allowed me to turn back toward the face of God and receive his amazing grace. All the little sins, the ones I tend to shove under the rug and forget about or justify, had built up and swallowed me down. The grace that God constantly pours out on me, without end, was being stopped by my preoccupation with my self and my life. It was the first time in my life that I realized just how strong the Sacrament of Reconciliation is. I truly felt reconciled with God.

I hadn’t even realized I was being separated from him. I didn’t hate him, or feel angry at him, but I was slowly getting far and far away. It was like he was my best friend, and as each day went by I forgot to call him back. With every missed call my relationship with him was getting weaker, but in my head I could still remember him as my best friend so I didn’t think it was that important.

Confession is so important. Being united with the God of the universe matters. This experience really solidified my love for the sacrament, and gave me a very real taste of the efficacy of grace. The sacraments really work, God truly pours out his grace through them to us!

If you want to learn more about my take on confession read this:

Confused about Confession

Pre-Marital Sex – A Secular Stance

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I believe there is an ever-increasing need to use a secular way of explaining spiritual matters. In our day and age many people, even Christians, do not accept argumentation based on ‘Spiritual’ or ‘Biblical’ reasoning. One very spiritually based controversial topic is pre-marital sex, and I have learned that many people do not accept ‘God says no’ or “Theology of the Body”as a legitimate reason.

This statement is normally the basic ground I take to convince secular people that sex should be reserved till after marriage: “Those who are monogamous and wait till marriage have the best sex they ever could – because its the only sex they’ll ever know.”

Why wouldn’t you want the sex you will have forever in marriage to be the only sex you’ll ever know? Sex is very powerful, as anyone who has had it can attest. It is psychologically, emotionally, and physically consuming and creates strong levels on attachment and attraction toward another person.  To have this before marriage is very dangerous. When you have premarital sex there are 3 negative effects I can explain without using anything Religious to dissuade people who believe there is no fault in it.

The Memory of the Past

If you have sex before you are married you are creating strong memories that will last your whole life. As I said, sex is very powerful and it creates strong bonds between two people. You also can prefer one persons ‘lovin’ more than another. The psychological difficulties which develop from such carefree sexual activity can be very damaging for a marital relationship. When you are having sex with your spouse, the person you will be having sex with exclusively for the entirety of your life, you will involuntarily be comparing your spouse’s performance with your past experiences. Not only does this cause a very weird imbalance for your psychological feelings and emotions, but it creates an unstable relationship. Your spouse is insecure that they do not measure up. Or you find yourself having flashbacks of previous relationships while having an intimate experience with your spouse.

Your Own Gift

You can only give yourself away for the first time once. Now this might sound cheesey, but when you think about it makes sense.  Virginity is exclusively yours and it is the one thing you can give to someone totally and completely. If you have sex before you are married with one or even multiple partners you have already given away all you can. It isn’t special anymore. It is a gift that has been re-gifted, and no one likes to receive a gift that’s already been opened dented and then re-wrapped haphazardly.  Think about this concept. When you meet ‘The One’, the person who makes you feel as none have felt, the person you cannot live without, don’t you want to do everything you can for them. If you’ve ever been in love you know the intense feeling of self-gift that overwhelms you. However, if you are too hasty and too quick to give that gift, then it might be wasted. That is why is is so important to wait till after marriage to have sex, you truly can give a UNIQUE and SPECIAL gift to your spouse that is exclusively his.

Relationship for Sex or Relationship and Sex

When two people come together in a relationship they have two options: wait till marriage or indulge now. Most of those who choose to indulge now sacrifice a lot in doing so that will continue to affect them the rest of their lives. However, those who wait till marriage may have to sacrifice for the time being, but they will be heavily rewarded in the long term. When you decide that sex is off limits, the relationship can truly be built on virtues: on patience, self-respect, self-sacrifice, trust and responsibility. The relationship will still be fueled by the desire to please the other person, however the two people are working toward a common goal. Meanwhile they can enjoy every touch, every embrace, every time they hold hands individually. When they do finally achieve that goal and get married, sex is a reward that is beyond their dreams. Their wedding night is everything romance should be. The two of them will truly be turning two lives into one, giving each other themselves unreservedly, and committing themselves to the other mind body and soul. If you’ve been having sex the whole relationship, sex is already old hat by the time the wedding rolls around. The wedding night is special, but definitely not as special as it should be.

To Sum it Up

Without mentioning God at all, which as a theology major pains me because this explanation can be enhanced greatly with his Wisdom, I think it is easy to see why “those who are monogamous have the best sex they ever could – because it’s the only sex they’ll ever know” is definitely not a negative thing. There are statistics that prove that Christian couples who wait till marriage for sex truly will enjoy sex with their partner more fully and longer than the couple who has had sex with multiple partners and not worked hard together to grow in other ways before enjoying the completeness of the other person.

Love of the Giver

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“The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives.”

 (Imitation of Christ)

The most famous bible verse in the world begins with “For God so loved the world, that he gave…”. (John 3:16). This emphasizes one quality of God that we look to the most. God as Giver. We pray and ask him to help us, to give us peace or strength. We ask him to give us financial relief, or give us good health. We ask him to give healing to our friends and families. We pray to God as The Giver.

It is a beautiful dependence to cultivate. To trust that God will give you all you need is a prayer that is very familiar to us. In the Our Father we pray together, hopefully more than every Sunday, for God to ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ This petition is a humble acceptance that God will give to us all that is necessary for us to survive. Christ taught us the Our Father so that we would become like children and trust in his care. He reminds us through this petition that if we trust in him as a child trusts his parents to give him food, God will provide for us.

“He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

God is generosity itself. It is in his very nature to provide to his children all they need. When we pray to ‘give us this daily bread’ it does not necessarily mean we are asking him for something, but rather that we are praising him because we truly know he will take care of us.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)

We live in a culture where a feeling of entitlement is felt in almost every heart. We feel as if we deserve something, and we especially feel this way toward God. This cultivates an unhealthy relationship with the overly generous God. We bargain with God telling him to give us something we need if we pray this prayer or sacrifice this habit. unfortunately this leads to disappointment when we do not receive what we want.

To add to this disappointment, the sin of jealousy rages inside our hearts alongside our feelings of entitlement. We feel others ar rewarded for doing nothing, and we feel slighted by God.

What we must come to realize is the glory of Giver and not the gifts. This quote from the Imitation of Christ sums it up: “The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives.” When we take a moment to look around at the gifts God has given to other people, we must teach our hearts to be in awe of the Giver and not envious of the gifts. When we turn our hearts away from the material and toward the immaterial, we are rewarded.

We may not get  exactly what we wanted, but it gives God greater glory when we praise him as a Giver instead of thanking him for the gifts. “Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding.” (Imitation of Christ)