What I Learned About Confession from My Father

'This important sacrament is crucial to my ability to reconnect with God,' says this priest and author

Once a month on Saturday afternoons, my dad would announce to me, my sister and my two brothers, “Kids, your mother and I are going to Confession, and you are all welcome to join us.”

We would pile into our big brown station wagon and drive off to St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. There were usually two or three priests available, and lines formed immediately, outside of each confessional.

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I was always impressed to see my mom and dad first kneel down in the pews and spend some time preparing for this special sacrament. They would return to the pew after Confession and would stay a few more minutes in deep prayer. I always noticed a deep peace and calm in my parents on the way home, and we all seemed to benefit from the soothing effect of God’s grace.

St. John Paul II wrote, “The grace proper to the sacrament of penance has a remedial power and helps remove the roots of sin.”

These days I take advantage of receiving this important sacrament every week. At times, I feel like I am in a boxing match with the devil, my passions and my pride — when suddenly the bell rings and I can go consult with the priest. 

He may not splash water on my face as a trainer might do in a boxing match — but this fellow priest, whoever he may be, does share helpful advice with me. He reminds me why I am fighting, and most importantly, the grace from this sacrament makes me want to jump back into the ring.

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Pope Francis reminded us during his first Angelus address at St. Peter’s in Rome: “God understands us. He waits for us. He doesn’t get tired of forgiving us, if we repent and go to him with a truly open heart. Never forget this: The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

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Please don’t get tired of asking for forgiveness! Don’t be afraid of opening up your heart to God’s tender mercy.

Allow Him to heal you, to help you with your struggles, and to propel you back onto the optimal path of His most holy will.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest and the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders.

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