Every year just before Easter we priests get very busy hearing confessions. While many Saturdays we may sit in the confessional for long periods of time with no one showing up, before Easter people are calling at all hours and breaking down the doors to confess their sins. While on the one hand it is good that people are taking advantage of this wonderful sacrament of God’s healing mercy, on the other hand, it’s a shame they wait until Easter. Some people even say very proudly, “I go to confession once a year at Easter to make my Easter duty!” (So pat me on the back- I’m a good Catholic!) If you think about it, that is minimalism and one has to question the sincerity of the person’s desire not to offend God. Confessing only once a year is not something we should be proud of.
Imagine it this way: suppose a husband were to say to his wife, “Honey, if I tell you once a year around our anniversary that I’m sorry for anything I may have said or done to offend you during the past year, will you be happy with that?” Obviously, we know the answer to that is an immediate “no way!” That would hardly be sincere, would it? So why do we think that’s okay with God? Why do we think that once a year at Easter (the really holy people go at Christmas also) if we tell God we’re sorry for things we can’t even recall but assume we probably did during the year, that this somehow is a sign of a strong relationship with God and that He is pleased with us? I like to ask children this question: how often should a husband tell his wife he’s sorry for offending her? They always answer the very same way: whenever he’s done something to offend her! That’s what we should do with God. So, to answer the question that is the title of this blog: “How often should I go to confession?” the answer is, “Whenever we realize we’ve offended God.” If we are serious about growing in holiness and in a close relationship with God, that’s going to be far more frequently than once a year at Easter! See you in confession regularly!