Thoughts About Reconciliation

This is not a text for a rite of reconciliation. Here are just a few ‘thought-starters’ that might or might not lead to one…in Holy Week or some other time.

This first one is not a usual examination of conscience. It is an examination of how a lot of people feel about reconciliation rituals.

The main point of the Christian life isn’t to get out of sins. So what is it?

I have a lot of non-public, non-deliberate, not fully conscious stuff in my life, but I hesitate to call it sin. I’m still embarrassed to talk about it.

I don’t want a priest to put names on it and scrutinize it.

I hope he didn’t hear what I said. I hope no one did.

When he says (and he does) ‘there’s no sin there, you’re ok’ – how would he know?

Even if I admit the term ‘sin’ for what I do, I don’t think it is ‘mortal’ because it hasn’t killed off my love for God, or for people, or even for the church. It hasn’t killed anyone or anything.

Frequent confession is a modern idea in the church, isn’t it? Like about a hundred years old..? What are the priests pushing it for?

Going to confession seems to create guilt.

I don’t like catalogue confession. I have too many checklists anyway.

Confession seems like an old time washing machine for sin-dirtied clothes. I need more, I need dry-cleaning! [Sometimes I feel just hung out to dry!]

I feel it’s like a number counter trying to get me up to zero….from some minus point…

I need to be forgiven by people I’ve hurt…not by God or the church (I haven’t hurt them). God knows about it, I just don’t see that the Church needs to know.

You know, I often feel I’m a better person for doing the things they call sins…

I do forgive other people, and I wish they would forgive me. We need to make up together. That would be good. If those other so and sos would only play ball.

A few years back the official church changed the way we were supposed to do the ‘first rite’ – you know, pray with the priest, a scripture reading, a moment to think about it, a short sharing afterwards, and then sorrow and absolution. Something like that. It didn’t happen much. Why doesn’t it happen more like that? There aren’t that many lined up for confession!

People were dropping out from confession well before the ‘third rite’ came and went.
How many ordinary people still go to confession, anyway? How many of those who still go have done anything sinful?

Why do I think these things, and then say an act of contrition before I go to bed just to be sure?
I know about my conscience, but do I believe it? I know I’m not bound to go to confession unless I’m really in serious sin, and I’m not, but I still get worried a bit because I don’t go…

Most of the stuff I do is my neuroses talking. Most of the times I have gone to confession it felt like servicing my neuroses.

Lent…. I’d like to think about what the risen Jesus wants me to do next, not what I did back there then…

Holy Week …Please God, don’t let me get the guilts this week!

Jesus on Good Friday….gee, I wish I could love a bit more like him!

Easter Sunday… wow, a whole new deal! I wonder, wonder if it could be real, for me.

Here is a second one, about it all being unconditional…

Do I have to fix it all up, the messes I’ve made, before it’s all ok with God?
Do I have to feel permanently guilty because I can’t fix it all up?
It’s an awful question, but is there a bigger framework than Good Friday? Is there a bigger horizon in which things I’ve done wrong, and everything Jesus did on Good Friday, belong to a much deeper act of understanding in God, that God wants to show us and share with us from time to time?
Is this bigger horizon that of creation?
Is creation from God, that goes on all the time, bigger than anything I’ve done, do, or could do to mess it up?
Is creation a larger gift than redemption??

Don Browning: a prayer:
We know of your grace and forgiveness – a grace and forgiveness that comes in many ways.
Help us to appreciate the grace that comes from the reality that
                   While we forget, you do not;
                   While we waste and lose the goods of life, you cherish, preserve, and share all good with us;
                   While we ignore and neglect, you ignore and neglect nothing;

Thereby saving us amidst all of our weakness, ignorance, and wilful disregard.

God never withdraws ‘understanding’ from us. When we say that God forgives us, we are reassuring ourselves of that. We never get past our need for God. Sometimes we tell God we would give up anything, everything, to keep God with us: it is like reassuring God that we still and always need God. [Jean-Luc Marion]

We try to maintain the appearance of God’s honour, we act as if we are trying to save our beloved God from shame. We know we are not searching for God’s ‘understanding’: we are just staging the spectacle of a desperate search for it…. It is not to get something new from God. It is to dupe God, as it were, into thinking we are still missing something God hasn’t yet given us…[Zizek]

The third one relates directly to Holy Week and Easter.

We are not thinking, these days, about original sin, the fall of humanity, or some congenital sinfulness of all of us, and the death of Jesus as an expiatory sacrifice to appease an offended God lest we all go to hell. [Sin is yielding to counter-evolutionary selfishness and declining to accept the invitation to self-transcendence. It is a refusal to transcend self in the interest of others.] We are being caught up, these days, in the creative energy of Divine Being that is entirely immanent within all non-divine being. It wells up like a spring of water impelling non-divine being to transcend itself in the course of its evolutionary march to God. Jesus looked at how individual extinction (death) fits into God’s overall design. He led us all through it to a new level of living with God. He did so by freely confronting death and winning through to a new phase of existence with God and one another.
Easter is actually a bigger thing than Lent or Holy Week or reconciliation rites….or Good Friday. It is…Easter.

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