Monday, September 9, 2013

Confessions about confession

I go to confession to cheat.  Unfortunately, this hasn't always been the case.  Sometimes ignorance is burden not bliss.

A month ago I was in the throws of a not atypical work induced depression.  The typical unexplained anxieties - fear of receiving an email, over-thinking every conversation capped off with a deep desire to leave the office.

Amidst all this chaos, I got the idea (from the Holy Spirit, no doubt) to mention in confession that I was sinning against the virtue of cheerfulness.  I certainly didn't want to be depressed, but that doesn't change the fact that I was depressed.  After all, cheerfulness is a virtue and I certainly was not living it.

Now, skeptics will ask me if it is a sin to be sad or depressed.  And, the answer is that it is complicated, which I know is not very satisfying, but in matters of conscience vague and right is better than specific and wrong.

I'll defer to St. Josemaria "You are unhappy? — Think: there must be an obstacle between God and me. You will seldom be wrong" (The Way 662).  Pinpointing the obstacle is not always easy nor is it necessary.  Sometimes we just need to tell our Lord that we are sad and we don't know why.  And, when we do this in the context of confession, you will see why it is called the sacrament of joy!

Back to our story.  Thursday was completely different from Wednesday.  I didn't feel like a pin cushion, getting pricked by every incoming email, look or word.  I was even able to endure forty minutes of "feedback," with a reasonable degree of interior composure.

Confession is a prime example of how Jesus' yolk can be easy, while at the same time "the way is hard that leads to life." (Mt. 7:14)  Confession made happiness easy, almost as easy as cheating. But, if I hadn't aimed for the hard way - cheerfulness ALWAYS - I would have accepted sadness as just an unavoidable part of life.

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