The Sacrament of Reconciliation is just one of the many religious practices I learned as a student in a Catholic school. It seemed such a big deal back then for me to go confess my sins to a priest inside a confessional box. But now I’ve gotten the chance to look at it from the POV of an observer, something a few people are able to do. For many people in the world, the Christian life is the only life that they know, but for an outsider, they will be able to tell if there is something more beyond the confines of one’s own thinking. To put it simply, this sacrament was a way for any Catholic to have his/her Sins forgiven by God in exchange for a repentant attitude and some prayers.
Sure, I might have been a naughty young kid and got myself into trouble at times but it sure wouldn’t deserve the condemnation it gets me from the people around me. “Self-condemnation” is just exactly what I don’t need more of. Most young children are easily condemned for disobeying authority figures such as parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. As a rule, grown-ups believe that they are always right. What more about the God of the Holy Bible, the Great Authority for all the mankind’s affairs and also the biggest condemner in history for it is only Him who would condemn a person to eternal suffering in Hell?
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49-50).
The idea of Hell is disturbing enough to scare people away from sin, but how can we be sure that there is such a place as Hell so I can start becoming one of the just people who will be saved from being thrown into the furnace of fire? Maybe I will never know the Truth about what is in Hell while I’m still with the living. Even if I do go to Confession once again or multiple times, it will not turn me into Saint but rather keep on reminding me of my fallen status as a sinner. Pope John Paul II, himself, recommended having regular Confession as part of the Catholic life. The Christian religions also tell us that Mankind is sinful by nature so no matter how hard people try not to sin, they always fail at it. So what is the point of performing the Sacrament of Confession aside from divulging both your shameful secrets and feelings of guilt to the priest in front of you, behind the screen. Can I be sure that whatever I say inside the Confessional is not going to come back to haunt me? You are talking to just a priest after all – not God – who is still just a man who may succumb to the same temptations as any of us. Haven’t we all heard of the dozens of scandals in the news recently, involving the Church and its own priests? It is also quite obvious that anybody behind the screen will easily be able to recognize the repentant person by their silhouette or through their voice.
Now it is not so clear to me which of my actions are sinful and which are not. I know that lots of people commit brutal crimes and severe abuse everyday but you won’t find many of them Confessing about their sins. You’ll just find them inside a Jail cell. I would go far as saying that some of those people don’t deserve God’s Forgiveness. Life is not simply black and white like people wish it to be. There are many gray areas in our everyday dealings that come up and need to be considered.