It was an average, dirty snow, Minnesotan late afternoon where the sun that had hid its head all day and evening crept in early. I sat in the long, long line for Confession at our cathedral. The man to my left buried his face in his hands while the woman to my right was examining her conscience with one of those available handouts. I continued to check my phone for the time and any emergency texts from my husband.
Why am I really here? I haven't committed any mortal sins. The line slid down incrementally closer to the one priest hearing confessions for dozens of us. Jesus, how bad are my venial sins? I closed my eyes and stopped reaching for my phone. The Blessed Sacrament perched in the monstrance on the altar and I asked Him very directly. Show me what my little tiny bad habits that barely qualify as sins do to Your heart.
My mind leapt to me flinging back a velvet covering over a manhole on a cobblestone street. Hungry flames licked up and blood sprayed everywhere like a severed artery. It was an inferno of suffering. I recoiled and recovered it with my mind's eye as quickly as I could. My eyes stung and my chest heaved with contrition.
Sisters, when the leper asks Jesus to make him clean, his physical disease was obvious and apparent. (Luke 5:12) When we go to the priest in Confession and ask Jesus to make our souls clean, maybe the issues aren't as visible. I'm a nice mom. I'm a kind friend. I'm a sweet wife. Nice enough, at least, I thought.
Christ gave me the gift of knowing how horrifically painful my small sins are to His heart. I share it with you so that you, too, can be convicted to root out our little sins, our easy selfish habits. Let's be honest with ourselves and Him about how these little sins lead to a life of malaise and distance from Him.
He is waiting to heal us; we have only to ask.
Sisters, if you don't know what time Confession is offered around you, check out this site and put in your zip code or city. It will give you Mass times and Confession, too.
Nell O'Leary is a recovering lawyer turned blogger, speaker, and sewer of baby goods while tending to her husband and four kiddos in the great city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. She serves as Managing Editor for Blessed is She and can down a hot cocoa in no time flat. Find out more about her here. She is the editor of our Blessed Conversations Series.