I came home from confession one day and patted the pockets of my jeans. They were empty. I quickly looked through my purse and coat pockets. Nothing.
I groaned. I’d lost the piece of paper that had my confession on it.
It’s happened more than once, my list of uglies, big and small, floating around disguised as just one more piece of paper until someone stops to look at it a little more closely. I’ve had to snatch it out of my unsuspecting husband’s hands more than once after he’d found it on the counter or floor and unfolded it, wondering what it had been. I’ve pulled it out of my purse thinking that it was my grocery list, wincing at the reminder of what I’d done. Thankfully, it hasn’t landed in the children’s hands–most of them can’t read yet anyway–but they could probably draft it themselves, maybe even suggesting a few items that I might’ve overlooked.
I would love to burn it, relishing seeing my stinky sins getting eaten up by the heat of Christ’s love. In practice, though, it’s difficult to find time to put flame to my list when we’re busy unbundling the kids after their trip to get Mom’s heart all cleaned up. It’d most likely result in us just having to put all their coats back on and heading over to the ER.
The confession paper pyre, though, I think is the most fitting end to the list. It’d be a great reminder to me that more than just “coming clean,” those sins have disappeared, Christ eviscerating them in the ocean of His mercy. A mercy so powerful, in fact, that it far outshines even very powerful rites. A few years ago during an exorcism conference in Chicago, the exorcist for the archdiocese Rev. Jeffrey Grob remarked that “one good sacramental confession is more powerful than 100 exorcisms.”
That’s what makes encountering those old lists of sins so upsetting: in reality, they don’t exist anymore. Therefore I resolve to find some way to destroy the list in church so that it doesn’t even come home with me. Because why should I hang to it when Christ sure doesn’t?
I just need to make sure that it’s not my grocery list.