|Even the Pope needs to confess sometimes|
We human beings are slow learners; I am, at least. It always seems to catch me by surprise when I do just what I did before, and get the same result.
Allow me to be more specific. My first job is in academia, so summer always has at least a bit of the flavor of those summer vacations we all used to experience as students: school's out! Yeah! I do have a full-time job over the break at the retail store where I work part-time during the school year, but after all it is only one job for a few months, and a much less stressful one at that. There is also beautiful weather, some beach days (hey, did I show you that picture of my feet in the surf?), and family events. At the same time, there have been no shortage of reasons for stress and anxiety. In other words, business as usual.
And yet, beyond the usual difficulties and disappointments of life, as this summer wore on I experienced a growing sense of heaviness and fatigue. Up until this past weekend, that is. Up until then, I was working every Saturday, which precluded getting to confession at the regular times, and I never got around to making an appointment. I should have learned by now that staying away from the confessional always makes things worse. After finally availing myself of the sacrament I’m still as stressed as ever, but the heaviness is gone; the (partly unconscious) awareness of the burden of sin that had been building for months, it seems, had been weighing me down.
I’m not saying that confession is a sure-fire cure for the blues, and while I typically do feel a sense of relief afterwards, this very physical sense of liberation was unusual. All I can conclude is that, this time, I received a spiritual consolation, a pure and un-earned bonus, to point me in the right direction. It was a reminder of what I already knew, but in my muddle-headedness somehow forgot: that regular confession is an essential part of a healthy spiritual life. I need forgiveness for sins already committed, but also the Grace to avoid sin in the present. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.