Lent: A Season of Pruning and Reconciliation
How’s your Lent going so far? Hopefully, now that we’re a little over a week in, you’re starting to see some fruit from your Lenten practices. In 2016, Pope Francis said, “Lent is a beneficial time of pruning from falsity, from worldliness, from indifference: to not think that everything is ok if I am ok; to understand that what counts is not approval, the pursuit of success or consensus, but purity of heart and life.”
One of the ways that we “prune” ourselves throughout Lent is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is important all the time, but it’s especially important in Lent. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how to make a good confession, or how to go about it. St. Josemaría Escrivá used to give four basic criteria to help: a good confession is concise, concrete, clear, and complete.
- Concise: We don’t have to use too many words, just enough to be humble and say what we’ve done or failed to do, without unnecessary elaboration or adornment. We don’t want to be evasive, but we also don’t want to be long and elaborate.
- Concrete: Try not to be too general in the confession of sins. Sometimes it is helpful to tell the priest the estimated times a sin has been committed, to help determine if it’s something that’s a real struggle or momentary lapse.
- Clear: It’s good to make ourselves understood in the confession, trying to declare the precise nature of the fault
- Complete: Always try your best to make an integral confession, not leaving anything out that you’re aware of. Sometimes, there’s a temptation to a false sense of shame, in which we don’t want to “appear bad” in the eyes of the priest, but more often than not, the priest just wants to give you the mercy you seek in the sacrament, and doesn’t think anything else of it. It’s important that we love Christ completely, not holding anything back!
Keep in mind, Confession is not counseling, and it’s not a time for spiritual direction or longer conversations about what’s going on in our lives. There’s a practical aspect to that – chances are during Lent that there will be people waiting for Confession, so it’s good to be considerate of them. But it’s also a reminder that Confession is our time to simply and humbly lay our sins before God and receive the healing he wants to give us. I hope you’ll consider making it a priority to make it to Confession this Lenten Season!