Returning to Reconciliation

How long has it been since you’ve cleaned your windows? Are they crystal clear and easy to see through because they’ve just recently been wiped down? Are they caked in dirt and grime, making it difficult to see what’s on the other side? Or are they somewhere in between, not pristine but not filthy?

Keeping one’s windows clean is a lot like keeping one’s soul clean: The more consistently you clean your windows, the easier it is to keep them clean and the easier it is to see through them. If the windows in question are in your car, seeing through them becomes even more important. Your windshield and your side windows are what allow you to follow the road, obey traffic signals, and avoid obstacles, people, and other vehicles. When your vision is obstructed, it becomes difficult or impossible to drive well. That’s why cars are equipped with wiper fluid and wiper blades. They clear your vision.

Confession is the window cleaner of your soul. When you are in the state of grace, it’s like you have clean windows: God provides us with the wisdom and strength to stay the course. It isn’t so difficult to know what the right choices are. Our path is obvious. When we succumb to temptation and commit grave sin, it’s like our windows are dirty: Our soul becomes covered in a dark shroud. We are much more prone to fall into sin. We lack the guidance of God’s grace in us which gives us the strength to withstand.

That is why the sacrament of reconciliation is so important and it’s so beneficial to confess one’s sins regularly and often. Josh Raymond welcomed Father JJ Mech onto The Inner Life to talk about the power of forgiveness, how to prepare for confession, and how to benefit from it as much as possible.

Father Mech recalled a story in which one of his friends, Father Mark, became trapped in an elevator after it malfunctioned. As Father Mark yelled for help, an electrical fire started at the base of the compartment. As he lay on the ground, trying to breathe through the smoke, he began to say the act of contrition. Father Mark was eventually rescued, but Father Mech explained that it was interesting to note that in what he thought to be his final moments, the thing that ailed Father Mark the most were his sins.

When we experience an injury or illness, we look for the best solution possible. What’s going to fix it? Should I take a pain reliever and get some rest? Or should I go to the emergency room because my situation is dire? When we have sins on our souls, we go through a similar assessment process. Are we guilty of some venial sins or is our soul cut off from God’s saving grace because of our mortal sins?

If there was a cure for cancer and you were diagnosed with cancer, wouldn’t you immediately go to the best doctor possible to try and procure this vital treatment? Mortal sin is a cancer of the soul and confession is our cure.

Many Catholics who avoid the sacrament of confession do so out of fear that what they say will scandalize the priest, or that their sins will get out to their friends, family, or the public. They cannot fathom the idea of freely admitting to immoral acts or unlawful crimes. But, as Father Mech reminded us, what is the most common phrase in the Bible? “Fear not.”

Your anonymity and sins are bound by the seal of confession. The seal of confession protects those who confess their sins by strictly prohibiting the confessor from releasing any information that was shared inside the confessional. The priest cannot share what they confessed, what they were asked or told about, or even the name of the person who confessed to them if they knew it. If a priest were to release any of the information revealed to him within the confines of confession, he loses his priestly faculties and is automatically excommunicated. Their excommunication is only revocable by the Pope.

Once you can get past the fear of your own shame, the next step is to examine your conscience. Get down into the nitty-gritty of your sins. What evil have you done? The more you examine yourself, the more thorough your confession. You can not only find the things that you’ve done wrong, but if you prayerfully consider the motives behind your habits, you can also root out the causes of your sins.

While there is a psychological aspect to reconciliation, we don’t go to confession for counseling or therapy. We go to cleanse our souls and nurture our spiritual life. Acknowledge that confession is your source of God’s forgiveness, get past the fear that stops us from returning to the Lord, examine your conscience, confess your sins, and return to the sacrament as often as possible. This pattern is what will turn us from sinners into saints.

Tune in to The Inner Life  weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.