Friday, October 7, 2022

A Rule of Life: Monthly Confession

I once wrote about the importance of prioritizing our priorities; of making the time and space for the different things that are important in our lives--even when those look different from the priorities and values of other people. In that post, I mentioned that my husband and I practically accomplish this through our Rule of Life (a basic framework for how we want to live). I thought it would be fun to write a small series of posts that dive into a few different elements of our Rule of Life. 

Today, I'd like to share one element of our family's Rule of Life: Monthly Confession.

I still remember the first time I received the Sacrament of Confession, also called the Sacrament of Reconciliation: I gathered in the church building with my second-grade religious education class, nervous but excited. We were told that we could either go behind the screen in the confessional on the left side of the church, or we could go to the brightly-lit confessional on the right side of the church, to have a "face to face" confession. Somehow, the idea of going "face to face" with a priest during confession was more terrifying than being in a small, pitch-black box, so to the left side of the church I went. 

I have been to Confession in dark, boxy confessionals. I've received this sacrament while sitting next to a priest in a church pew. I've received the sacrament from a priest I've barely understood, due to his thick accent. I've received the sacrament while nursing a baby. I've received the sacrament of Confession while standing on my front porch. I've received the sacrament of Confession more times than I can count--and I keep going. 

Why do I keep going back, over and over again? I continue my jaunt to the confessional because I keep sinning. I turn from God again and again. I choose to sin over walking in the light of Christ. I am broken, and I need healing. And God, in his mercy, offers forgiveness and healing...and he also offers this gift, this Sacrament, in which graces are poured out and my relationship with Him and with others in the Church is restored. 

"[Jesus] said to them [the disciples] again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”" (Jn 20:21-23)

We need Confession, and so for century after century, we have continued to receive this sacrament that Christ instituted (This article discusses the early Church and Confession, and Scott Hahn's book, Lord Have Mercy, provides a fantastic overview of the historical development and spiritual significance of this sacrament). 

Confession is extremely powerful and important, but it's easy to put it on the backburner. Besides the fact that our schedules can fill up quickly, preparing for Confession isn't exactly the most enjoyable activity out there. Observing the ways in which we've been turning away from God and falling into sin is not fun. Standing in a long line on a Saturday afternoon, when I could be doing many other activities, is not exactly my favorite thing. Speaking my sins out loud in the confessional can feel uncomfortable or painful. Yet, I come out of the confessional showered in God's grace, and a deep peace resonates in my soul. I am healed. 

Part of our family's rule of life is "monthly Confession." It's our way of ensuring that we regularly receive this sacrament; if we don't schedule it, it won't happen! So, we put it on the calendar each month and make sure that we go when we say we'll go. For a long time, we'd go as a whole family, dragging the kids out of naptime so we could pray in the church together while my husband and I took turns in the confessional. At some point, we realized that this was a lot to go through, so my husband and I found a church very close by and one of us will stay at home with napping kids while the other runs to Confession, and then we'll swap places. It works out pretty well, and it's really beautiful to see how our relationship with each other is continually being restored as we both receive this sacramental healing. 

We are members of the Body of Christ, and one's person healing affects us all. So, Confession isn't just about me, but about us as a Church--it's beautiful when we are all actively drawing close to God and asking him to heal us, over and over again. 

In fact, this joy in healing connects with another delightful aspect of our monthly routine: Confession Treat! 

At the conclusion of the parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus declares:

"I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." (Lk 15:7)

It seems appropriate, then, that we rejoice after receiving this tremendous sacrament. Confession Treat has ranged from picking up a carton of ice cream to share as a family to going out for burgers together, to eating a cookie (or two!) or having a piece of candy. Even if it's something quite small, it's a fun way to share the joy of this healing. 

God is merciful and loving, and I am grateful for this sacrament of healing. I hope that we all, as a Church, will continue to prioritize this sacrament as we continually turn towards God over and over again. 


  1. This was so good!! Love this series and getting a peek into your beautiful home life.

    1. I'm glad you liked this, Elisabeth! It's been a lot of fun to think through the different parts of our Rule of Life and look at the ways they've taken on greater significance over time :)

  2. This is so amazing. I have learnt about the Rule Of Life. will make some for my family too. God bless u and your family. God is good.

    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad you liked reading about the Rule of Life. It has been a hugely beneficial practice for our family. I hope the process of making one goes well for you and your family!