Meeting Jesus in the Sacrament of His Mercy

Fr. Marcin Serwin spoke about "Sin and Confession" at Theology on Tap West on January 15, hosted by Faith Connections and the Office of Catholic Youth. Here, a young adult shares her experience of the evening:

What comes to your mind when you think of the word "confession"? An excitement and pure joy of telling someone about your transgressions? Probably not. If you are like me, you might have unpleasant feelings of guilt and embarrassment, being reminded of your faults and parts of yourself that you want to hide.

Confession for many of us is not (yet) a joyful experience; we may feel like little children, standing in line, waiting and dreading for the moment when a priest might say, “Shame on you!” behind that closed door of the confessional (he won’t, by the way.) However, January 15’s Theology on Tap taught me to focus on God’s merciful love and His profound desire for us to return to friendship with Him through the sacrament of confession.

Fr. Marcin Serwin, Oblate of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and associate pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga, Ontario, was the speaker at the first Theology on Tap event of this year. He presented and explained the Biblical basis, and the tradition and history behind the sacrament of confession (including the reason we need to confess our sins); types of sins (mortal vs. venial sins, ‘unforgivable’ sins) and effects of sins in our lives; how to examine our conscience and be ready to confess our sins; and what to do and say during confession.

He also addressed questions and challenges regarding confession that we encounter, such as how to overcome the fear and shame of telling our sin to another person, whether or not the priests judge us when we confess (they don’t), and what happens if we don’t confess our sins ‘perfectly’ (e.g., forgot to confess something). “God’s mercy is greater than what the priest does,” said Fr. Marcin; he told the audience that confession is not about the priest or condemnation, but it’s about God’s mercy and our willingness to come before Jesus to be forgiven, so we can be reunited with Him in friendship. Jesus, our friend, is waiting patiently for us inside the confessional, desiring so much to forgive us and to be with us. It also fills hearts of priests with joy to see someone come to be forgiven, to become friends with Jesus again.

If that still doesn’t convince you to feel comfortable about confession, here’s some more good news: according to Fr. Marcin, priests are blessed with what’s called ‘the divine amnesia’; once you confess your sins, they won’t remember what you said. Most likely, nothing you say would be so terrible, unforgivable, and remarkable that priests would remember all the details. Hey, my sins were so boring that, once, I made a priest doze off and snore during my confession (but that’s a story for another day.)

Returning home from the event, I felt warm and joyful in my heart despite the frigid weather we had that evening. Thinking about Jesus waiting to forgive me and love me to holiness through the sacrament of confession made me feel so grateful and loved. To be honest, I’m sure I’ll still be sweating and feeling nervous as I stand in the line for confession… but I know I can count on His love for me, and joy at my humbleness and contrition when He tells me, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace."

— by Theresa Kim, a ‘Renaissance girl’ – with interests and passions that include visual arts, writing, problem-solving (mathematics), social justice and helping people, and talking to strangers (but not following them) and making new friends, just to name a few. She is in love with God and His world - so much so that she wants to learn everything about them. Her ever-increasing curiosity of God and His world led her to pursue post-secondary studies in software engineering, fine arts, and (soon) career counselling. She currently works as a software developer and as a mathematics tutor in Hamilton and surrounding areas. You will often find her petting cute dogs on the street, singing on top of her lungs while driving, and asking random questions that ultimately lead to discussions about God and life.