Second Monday in Great Lent
Kathisma 4 (Psalms 24-31)
“Because I kept silence, my bones are waxed old through my crying all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me, I was reduced to misery whilst the thorn stuck fast in me… I said: I will confess mine iniquities before the Lord against myself.” (Psalm 31)
Confession is hard. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who said they just loved to go to Confession. I’ve never met a person yet who likes to go to the dentist, either. I hate it, but I sure am glad we have dentists. If we didn’t have dentists, our teeth would be rotting out of our heads! That doesn’t make me like going any more, though. I can say the same about Confession. I don’t really enjoy going, but I am very happy that we have this mystery in the Church.
The Psalmist admits that he had some unconfessed sin, and look at what it did to him. It made him miserable. He calls his unconfessed sin ‘a thorn stuck fast in him.’ Unconfessed sin does that to you. It sits there and festers. It poisons you. The longer you leave it there, the worse it gets. The longer you leave it untreated, the harder it gets to treat it. Just like a thorn will fester and become even more tender and swollen and hard to remove, unconfessed sin will make your spirit defensive and hard where the thorn is concerned. You’ll justify it and ignore it and convince yourself it isn’t really a thorn at all. No, it’s something wonderful. Yeah, that’s it. Wonderful. What’s more? The Psalmist knew the whole time what was making him miserable, and he knew what to do about it; he just didn’t want to.
A friend of mine said this about going to Confession: “I always go to Confession nervous and mourning, but I always leave unburdened and singing. If I didn’t know how I’d leave, I’d never go.”
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that last part, because I feel the same way. My friend just gave me words for it. That is the faith part of repentance. It is only because we are confident that we will encounter a gracious and merciful Lord in Confession that we are able to go in the first place. It is only because we know how it ends that we are able to begin.
You know how it will end: with freedom, forgiveness… relief. Don’t live with a festering thorn in you. Don’t let your bones waste away because some unconfessed sin is eating away at your spiritual life and spoiling your Lenten discipline. Just go to Confession! It won’t be fun to go, but you’ll be glad you did.