When we confess our sins, God draws closer to us

Pope Francis hears confession during a penitential liturgy with juvenile detainees in Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center in Pacora, Panama, Jan. 25, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

March 12 / First Tuesday of Lent

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. ~ Ps 34:18


In Angela’s Ashes, his searing and spirited memoir of his impoverished childhood in Ireland, Frank McCourt writes vividly about his boyish fear of confessing to a priest that he had listened to a story with the word “piss” in it, or had thought of his aunt as “an old bitch.” Seen through a boy’s eyes, this is amusing. But in fact, whether we approach the physical confessional in the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation or simply acknowledge our sins to God in private prayer, we may be reluctant to expose the shame and ugliness within (indeed, as he grew older and the occasions for sin expanded, McCourt found himself more and more loath to share his shameful actions in confession). If we’ve prepared ourselves properly and undertaken the “searching moral inventory” that many Twelve-Step programs advocate, we may be all too aware of everything that has gone wrong in our souls and in our lives. We may think that our wrongs — both how we act and how we fail to act — will repel God, that what we’ve done and what we’ve failed to do are unforgivable, that God will withdraw from us as perhaps others have. But we would be wrong. For the reassuring truth is that Our Lord uses these moments of brokenness and vulnerability to draw closer to us. Not only does God not spurn our abject selves, he will wrap us in his abundant mercy and steadfast love. True repentance can call forth deep anguish. But offering God our shattered hearts and crushed spirits (phrases that also occur in Psalm 51) is a first and necessary step towards wholeness.

Lord God, help me to trust in your loving response when I cry to you with the pain of my sinfulness, and heal my broken spirit.Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

[Editors’ note: This is part of a daily Lenten reflection series. Sign up for our America Today newsletter to receive each reflection every day in your inbox.]

Rhett Segall
1 week 6 days ago

"Offering God our shattered hearts and crushed spirits is a first step". Well said! I think the difficulty of confessing IS the penance in the sacrament of reconciliation. It begins the process of reorienting ourselves towards God. And the sign of forgiveness the priest offers in the name of Christ is the singular grace of the sacrament. The "for your penance" part is symbolic of the state of reconciliation the repentant has entered into. Thanks for sharing!

Raxy John
1 week 5 days ago

wow thanks i like this type of devotional post . cyberflix

More: Lent / Prayer

The latest from america

Since retiring from my job, my husband has found me irritating. We had a talk (after fighting), and he is right: I am mothering him. Smothering him. “I have a mother,” he said. “I want a wife, a partner, a best friend.”
Valerie SchultzMarch 25, 2019
Jesus asks us to be generous with the poor. It’s one of the foundations of his public ministry: caring for the poor himself and asking his disciples to do so.
James Martin, S.J.March 25, 2019
Obedience is a way of following God and when the young Mary assented to God's plan with her "Yes" at the Annunciation, she gave us an example to follow: her obedience came from trust. Can we do the same with our faith?
Even in our relationships with family and friends, forgiveness can be hard to come by.