I was amused to read during the week that March 15th is ‘True Confessions Day’.
Intrigued, I read on, and found out that a couple in the USA, who own and run a wellbeing business, are proposing we put this day aside to concentrate on our contentedness, and wholeness, by telling all. Apparently, confessing to your friends, family, and workmates is all the rage now, especially if you do it all on this special day!
Yet for some of us, confession, repentance and penance have always been part of our lives. In fact in church we confess to each other at the beginning of Mass every time we go, so we don’t necessarily need to wait for March to come around. Yet, perhaps some folk do!
Well, this got me thinking back to my own experiences, after making my first confession as a child. We were taught to examine our conscience – always a good thing to do – and think of how we could be a better person – very positive – while making a list in our head of the things we had done wrong in the last fortnight; as we were encouraged to go into the confessional box around every two weeks.
As a seven year old at school in Consett, I must admit I found it hard going to think up a list of impressive sins to confess to. And spent time with my friends in the school playground where we exchanged our sins of the week. I remember one friend saying she’d eaten her sister’s dinner and got wrong off her Mam. Which made me wonder what penance she would get for that, surely three Hail Mary’s would do it!
Although, even though she was forgiven, I couldn’t help but think how that would do nothing to alleviate her sister’s hunger!
It was all so confusing at the time, that I remember relying on my staple misdemeanour, and rolling out it fortnightly, ‘I’ve missed my morning and night prayers’ even, if I hadn’t – which technically was me telling a fib, while asking for forgiveness!
I’m guessing at that time I didn’t fully understand what I was doing, and hadn’t mastered the logistics. I remember kneeling before the grill, my heart racing and just wanting to get in and out as quickly as possible, say my penance, then go home.
However, I do believe as an adult, that confession is a beneficial thing for all of us to practice. Whether through the Sacrament or a chosen day in March, everyone gets a chance. And the latter encourages us to confess to good things on that day, for example, how much we like or admire people, and ways in which they make us happy. In turn this would make the people you tell, happy too, making it a win win scenario.
Historically, centuries ago, penitents were forced to confess their sins in public, by wearing sack cloth and ashes and giving alms to the poor!
It’s just as well things have changed, as I wouldn’t fancy sitting in Wetherspoons with a hair shirt on underneath my Marks and Spencer’s jumper!
Anyway, it’s all about saying sorry, and meaning it!, whichever path we choose.
I think as a nation we find ourselves saying sorry almost all the time, usually for trivial things, like bumping trollies in Tesco, side stepping on pavements, or when someone or something blocks our path!
Yet, do we find it hard to say sorry and mean it for the bigger things?
In fact we are all used to listening to various politicians apologising for their actions, but are we fully convinced of their contrition, I’m guessing, not!
I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of fessing up to what we’ve done, as guilt can be a very negative thing to live with. And the feeling of lightness and grace after lifting the weight from our shoulders must be extremely beneficial to our wellbeing.
By the way, did I mention, around 50 years ago, myself and my class mates cooked up a conspiracy to set off the fire bell at school as a final hurrah when were leaving, just before taking our exams.
Well, It looks like I have now, and I’d like to apologise by saying,
‘I’m very sorry!’
Happy True Confessions Day!