Skip to comments.Thinking Inside the Box: An Attitude for Confession
Posted on 03/08/2008 2:23:34 PM PST by NYer
I do a lot of freelance writing for non-profit organizations and, frequently, while attending brainstorming sessions, I will hear the phrase "We need to 'Think Outside the Box' on this one."
"Thinking Outside the Box" has become a mantra for Americans. It means to conceive ideas that are not commonplace; to one-up the competition with original creativity; to find a new path to profit that has yet to be exploited in the marketplace.
In fact our society is obsessed with "Thinking Outside the Box." People continually search for new ways to entertain themselves, to feed themselves, to exercise themselves, to justify themselves, all with the maxim that it has to feel good and require minimal effort. This attitude drives our lifestyles, our politics and our very economy. In a nation founded on freedom — today defined as license — "Thinking Outside the Box" is praiseworthy conduct no matter what the cost. You might say we're hell-bent on it.
As Catholics, we are once again called to contradict secular society. Our faith requires us to Think Inside the Box: the confessional. The very thought of admitting guilt and portraying ourselves at our worst is unnerving, even frightening, and there are plenty of reasons to stay Outside the Box as so many people do. But more than a pious act, this valuable sacrament, when used frequently, becomes a daily attitude. An attitude that changes the way we think about ourselves and about others.
Catholics who regularly attend confession heighten their awareness of their own sins. It's like exercising a spiritual muscle: the more you use it, the more capable it becomes. Most of us struggle with the same sins over and over again, such as pride, resentment, lack of charity, gossiping, being judgmental of others, etc. By regular examination of our consciences we learn to call our sins by their proper names, to understand why they are an offense to God, and to own up to them freely. It becomes a challenge to get the best of our sins and experience small successes. Like balancing a checkbook, if we do it regularly there are fewer mistakes. (If we leave it too long we start bouncing checks all over town.)
With frequent confession Catholics begin to recognize how our personal sins injure the Body of Christ, and we take increasing responsibility for our own behavior within the Universal Church. Part of this responsibility is the practice of forgiveness and mercy towards others. What better place to learn these virtues than with Christ Himself, Inside the Box? The confessional cultivates an attitude of humility as we strive to see ourselves as God sees us; of generosity as we experience His forgiveness no matter how we have sinned; and of faith-based hope as we leave fortified with the graces of the sacrament. We leave the Inside of the Box cleansed and strengthened.
Confession is so spiritually valuable that modern society has been unable to ignore it. Instead, they pervert it. Modern psychoanalysis places particular emphasis on self-examination and oral "confession," while discarding any religious element. Television talk shows boost their ratings with on-air confessions. Thanks to the iIternet you can confess your sins online for free, or read the confessions of others for a charge (now there's an entrepreneur who is really Thinking Outside the Box). You can even confess your "carbon sins" to a Canadian environmental group who will issue your penance: the purchase of carbon "offsets" to make up for your offenses.
Anthropologists have studied native tribes who send sinful offenders out to a Confession Tree in order to unburden their consciences. Other cultures symbolically burn, drown and throw their sins off high peaks to find a fresh start.
So our human need to recognize our sins and seek forgiveness is universal. How wonderful that Christ provided for it! Following His Resurrection, He appeared to His Apostles, the first priests, and instituted the sacrament precisely for the forgiveness of our sins: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound" (John 20: 22-23). On the cross three days prior, Jesus forgave all sins; then in the sacrament of penance He personalized that mercy, giving us the assurance that His forgiveness was not just a general absolution but a living grace available to us throughout our earthly journey.
We need confession like we need fresh air to breathe. Sin suffocates us. As long as we sin, which will until we die, we need confession.
So while America is called to Run on DunkinTM, Catholics are called to run on God's grace and mercy. Think Inside the Box and get to confession this Lent.
Doreen M. Truesdell, a former newspaper journalist, is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband, Stephen, live in upstate New York with their four homeschooled children, aged 4 to 13.
Next week, most of your parishes will be holding Reconciliation Services. I trust freeper Salvation will post the links to several versions of an Examination of Conscience for Adults. If you do a google search, you will also find similar examinations for teens and children.
Last night, we had rehearsal for our parish children who will be receiving the Sacrament of First Penance on Tuesday. Father and I went over the Reconciliaition Service with its reflections, readings and the time at which private confessions will be held. He told the children that he wants to hear the 'good' things they do, along with the ones that are wrong and we explained how hurting friends and/or family also entails hurting the community and especially God who loves us all.
For those of you with very young children, please take them to a Penance Service so that when it is time for their First Penance, they will already feel comfortable with how it is conducted in your parish. Most importantly, demonstrate this through your own actions. Be the role model they should follow.
As a matter of fact, identifying an entity as a 'non-profit' as if that's some type of separate, vaunted species is getting on my nerves, like the terms "green this" and "green that."
Things tend to get on my nerves a few years before they get rotated out of fashion.
This article reminds me that The Woim is overdue for Confession.
Perfect timing for article. Took all four kids to confession today. I take them every 3 months whether they need it or not. We look forward to it actually.
What better time than Lent. (see freeper Salvation's links above for any one of several Examinations of Conscience).
Today I went to confession and it was truly a blessed experence. At least now I am ready for what is left of Lent as well as for Holy Week and Easter. :)
Thanks for posting the article and God Bless. :)
That’s funny. A few more annoying “mantras”: paradigm shift, spirit of Vatican II, full and active participation, speak truth to power, diversity made this country great (untrue as well as irritating)...
Every three months is wonderful. You are doing them such a favor. They may not like it now, but they will appreciate it in the future.
The Confessional booth is our Eden and, with Jesus’ help of course, its our chance to be master over demons.
Genesis chpt 1: God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”
So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
Genesis chpt 4: (God said to Cain) “If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”
We do not know the name of God the Father because to do so would be to deam equality with Him or vainly believe we’re better. But we are duty bound to name and take dominion over sin.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is much stronger than Exorcism.
*Have you joined with people not of the Faith in prayer, or attended their worship services?*
Does that mean people who are not Catholic, and attending not-Catholic services?
I am going to Confession tomorrow night, both in anticipation of Easter and before heading off to Sebring for the 12 Hours. I just reviweed the list of sins in the How To Make A Good Confession thread and am much more prepared now. I had a booklet from the Church, but the things suggested in it are none of them things I do; I was wondering what on Earth I was going to confess until I read that list....
There are now fourteen deadly sins, or so I heard this morning. Unfortunately, a number of the new ones are left wing political talking points, so I will not run out of opportunities to confess “contributing to social injustice” for example or “failure to recycle” or any of that rabble rubble.
And then there are all those massive number of beggars AND the crowds shouting and rattling cannisters in the subway station every morning demanding cash for various causes (this morning it was the Red Cross; last week it was collecting for the people burned out when that block of Queen Street burned down — because the people did not buy insurance, mostly; the week before that it was Lunch Money Day for the Food Bank...) I have a very grave difficulty seeing Jesus in the myriad of grabby hands, particularly the ones who add cursing and screaming to their grabbing and begging.
I find comfort in donating to legitimate charity centers so when I'm confronted by obvious hecklers, I can with clear conscience state, “I've already donated, God bless you.” and leave them where they are. In some cases, though, it's always wise to have some spare change for a vagrant that could turn violent if you don't give him at least a little something.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
My profile now shows a Traditional vs. New Mass comparision, from off the net.
I listened to Fr. Corpri Saturday night and he said that we are required to give to all of them because, like Mother Teresa, we must see Jesus in each of them.