“By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1458)
God’s mercy is endlessly surprising. There is no getting used to the feeling of having to pray a few short prayers in reparation for all the trash that I’ve revealed to Father in the confessional. Our Lord seems to bend over backwards in order to stress to His little creatures that we must simply return to Him with contrite hearts, and He’ll forgive us—no matter what we’ve done.
That type of mercy is almost painful to experience. It’s painful to our pride to accept what we’ve committed against our all-loving God and the people He’s put around us and also hard to accept that He would so freely and eagerly take us back. Later in the Catechism we read, “A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that ‘we receive from him whatever we ask.’” (2631)
If we can, though, pray for the courage to be humble and make a good confession and get into the habit of doing so regularly, we will become capable of more beauty and mercy than we ever could have before.
The Catechism quotes St. Augustine on the luminescence of confessing our sins:
Whoever confesses his sins…is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear “man”—this is what God has made; when you hear “sinner”—this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light. (1458)
This fall we can take a few serious minutes to think if there is anything eating away at our peace, some dark corner of our heart that’s hiding itself from God. We can pray for the strength of humility to bring it to confession and leave it there, inviting God to come remake us—lighter, brighter, and more merciful ourselves.