One very Catholic practice is confessing one’s sins to a priest. It can also be a very intimidating and frightening experience. Imagine telling another man all your sins and asking for forgiveness. Many keep away from this sacrament because of such apprehensions, specially if the only available priests is someone they know personally. It takes a lot of courage, humility and strength of character to be able to go to confession in such cases.
Recently, I learned something new and different about this sacrament that has made it easier and a more meaningful experience. This sacrament is about meeting Christ, who wants to give me His love and forgiveness more than He wants to hear my sins. Confession, therefore, is just a small part about confessing my sins and a bigger part about confessing God’s forgiveness and love for me.
This is also what I learn from Mary’s Magnificat. She confesses her lowliness, her unworthiness and her weakness before the Lord. And then she goes beyond that and confesses the great things that the Lord has done for her. She proclaims the greatness of the Lord, how He has filled her life with goodness and fullness. He takes someone or something small and makes it blessed for all eternity.
And so it is in my life. I know I am a sinner, full of weakness and even iniquity. And I confess that. And yet, in spite of my sinfulness, my lowliness, my weaknesses, He has done great things for me, liberally sprinkling my life and my journey with blessings, signs and wonders too numerous and too marvelous to enumerate. I confess God’s great love for me and His unending readiness to forgive all my sins and shortcomings. I will never be as pure as Mary. But I can join her in her joy and her confession of God’s great love and forgiveness for sinners like me.
The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
~ Psalm 45
Mary set outand traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.