It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was at my church in line for confession. While I awaited my turn I went through my mental list of things I wanted to bring up and let out a sigh. Wasn’t I just here, confessing these exact same sins?
The answer is, yes.
There are certain sins that I struggle with, and no matter how many times I bring them up in the confessional, I just keep struggling with them. I wondered if there was any point in even mentioning these things, since I would probably just go home and struggle with them again.
When my turn came I went into the confessional, knelt down, confessed my all-too-familiar sins, and then waited for the priest’s response. This is what he said to me:
Keep on fighting.
Jesus’ standard of holiness is high, we see that in today’s Gospel reading. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother, will be liable to judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22).
But the First Reading and the Psalm show that His mercy is boundless.
"If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him" (Ezra 18:21-22).
"If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered" (Psalm 103:3-4).
The battle against sin is real, it is unending, and it is worth fighting. And thankfully, we don’t need to fight it alone. When my priest lifted his hands in that confessional to give me absolution, I received the mercy of God, and the strength to keep on fighting. May you feel that encouragement, too, when you go to Confession this Lent, sister. We don't need to fight our sins alone.
For an in-depth look at the Sacrament of Penance, see what the Catholic encyclopedia has to say about it.
Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic Faith. She is a classically trained pianist who, after teaching for ten years now stays home with her three young children. but still manages to flex her creative muscles through writing, knitting, and gardening. She is proud to call Saint Paul home and loves everything about living in Minnesota, except for winter. You can find out more about her here.