You don't need to get your story right. You just have to be honest
Piers Morgan, the journalist, television personality and friend of President Trump, has given an interview to the Financial Times, which is behind a paywall, but which contains the following nugget of information:
Morgan is a Catholic, thanks largely to his mother. What did he last confess? “I don’t go to Confession, probably because it would take me too long.” OK, why does he go to church? “I pray occasionally . . . I find it comforting that there is something to pray to . . . I do believe in an afterlife. I do believe that people who meant a lot to me are up there looking down and I do believe if I talk directly to them they might help me. And it’s been quite effective. I’m still sitting here, I’m being interviewed by the FT.
It should come as no surprise that Mr Morgan does not go to Confession. After all, most Catholics in this country do not. As one Polish priest told me: “In England you see vast numbers of people going to Holy Communion, but never long queues outside the confessional. In Poland when one priest says Mass, another two, usually, are hearing confessions.” I myself have noticed the same thing in Italy: while one priest celebrates, at least one other hears confessions, so people can go to Holy Communion having been to Confession first. It is a great pity that this is not happening over here too. After all, the sacrament of Confession was given to us by the Lord, and it has not, and cannot, go out of date.
Legend has it that Frank Sinatra once wrote a letter to St John Paul II asking him to hear his confession. The saint supposedly wrote back advising the crooner to approach his parish priest. If Piers Morgan wished to confess, he would find, I am sure, most parish priests up to the job of hearing his confession.
It is not hard to go to Confession. People sometimes say things like “I don’t know the words” or “I don’t know what to say.” You do not have to get your story right before you go to confession; you just have to be honest. The only thing you have to say is the truth. You have to talk as if to God, the One who knows you best. The only real thing you need to take with you is a sense of your own sinfulness and an awareness of your sins.
It is a lack of this last that keeps people away from confession, I think, rather than embarrassment or fear. They no longer feel guilty because they have reasoned that they are nice people and that the things they do are somehow “OK” because God “doesn’t mind”. How to cure that mentality? I suppose the best way would be to read the Bible and find out what God is really like. One might like to start with these verses from Exodus, where God gives this description of Himself:
The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!
That hardly sounds like a God who does not mind transgression. God is moral, and His glory consists in the revelation of His moral goodness. Compared to Him, we are all weak and fallible and not as good as we could be.
With this in mind, let us all get ourselves off to Confession this Lent. Piers Morgan, and everyone else, see you in the queue!