Saturday, November 26, 2022

A Brief History of Sacramental Confession

    I started out this week wanting to say a little more about the sacrament of confession & reconciliation, and specifically the part where the priest gives you your "penance" -- traditionally assigning some prayers to be recited, a few Hail Marys or Our Fathers. Which seems to me to be kind of ... well, kind of beside the point. For a number of reasons. But my purpose isn't just to make fun of how not to do it. My point is to sift through a tradition whose meaning has faded through the centuries, in hopes of finding what is really needed, what is truly valuable for helping us to grow into people with healthy functioning consciences, and healthy relationships with God, with ourselves, and with one another.

    As usual, I got very quickly lost in the weeds of this, what seemed like a very manageably limited topic; i.e., the ritual penance part of the sacrament. So I've decided to back up another step and just give a quick run-down of how this sacrament came to be, historically. Just as background, without trying, for now, to evaluate or delve into the meaning or relevance of any of it for us today.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Confession, or Manifestation of Thoughts

     I have a confession: I almost never go to Confession. I mean, canon law only requires Catholics to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (as it's properly called) once a year, but I don't even go that often. I only do it when there's something really serious and sticky on my conscience. Which is rare -- and I think, more than anything, that's because I'm such a big believer in confession with a small “c”: frequent, thorough, routine confession, not necessarily to a priest (though my spiritual director happens to be one), and not limited to “sins.” It is a practice known in the monastic tradition as “manifestation of thoughts,” in chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict. 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Living Large

     This month, my awesome ADHD coach is teaching all about emotional regulation. Actually, most of what I've learned about my own emotions, I've learned from her before this present course began, and I think this is really the work I most need to do now. What I know about myself and emotions going in: I don't like them, I don't want them, I resist them, I stuff them, I ignore them, or sometimes I ruminate on them. And the result of all that is that I am ineffectual, I have no energy, I spin in circles, I putter and buffer and mutter and live a small, futile life. I don't want all that emotion, I dread opening up to it. And yet, it seems clear to me that this is what I have to learn to do in order to live fully, and in order to become a resource for others to learn to live fully.