When the Divine Surgeon Probes (Again)

A long while ago I heard a talk on Confession as part of a day long retreat.  The speaker had written a book on the subject and his opening question and point has stuck with me since then.  What is the Sacrament of Confession all about?  If you could choose one word to summarize why we go, why Christ instituted this Sacrament for the Church, what would it be?
What is your first answer?


Sure, Confession is about all those things, most definitely.
But the Church chooses another word as its primary attribute - healing.
It is, first and foremost, a Sacrament of healing.

Our sins wound us but our wounds are also often the root of our sin.
In the Sacrament, we find Christ's desire to heal us - the same Christ who made the blind see, the hemorrhaging woman to be healed, the lame to walk again.  He longs to heal us of the wounds that have held us bound not only for a few weeks since our last Confession but the root causes of those sins that may be years or decades old.  

We often (or maybe I should be specific - I often) get frustrated by having to repeat the same sins in Confession, despite the fervent and sincere intention last time to avoid the offense again.  It sometimes feels like I'm getting nowhere.  I get tired of the same issues coming up in my heart and head over and over, the same wounds splitting open and causing the pain that tempts my heart to lash back and defend itself.  Lord, I thought I was DONE with this!  But if Christ's true desire is to heal us, not just forgive us, I've been trying to view it as a process - the Divine Surgeon's careful and meticulous process of healing.  

I'm no medical expert but I do know that many times and for many injuries, there are wounds that can be attended once.  They heal and the owner is put right, never to be bothered by it again.  They go off on their way, healed and restored, singing their alleluia.  

But the bigger wounds, the bigger deformities and illnesses and traumas…they sometimes require treatment over and over.  They require feeling the sting of the surgeon's knife yet again as He has to go in again to take care of more of the problem.  It would be too traumatic to the patient to endure it all at once so the physician wisely takes his time.  Certain parts need to heal first and in certain order for the complete healing to occur correctly.  So our Divine Surgeon in His intimate wisdom of our wounds and the illnesses that plague our souls, sometimes (often) needs to go in again for more work.  The scalpel cuts through again and we feel the wound probed again.  It is tiring, yes, but it is the only way to true healing.  

So it is with some of our deepest wounds and sins.  The injury we felt long gone sometimes still rears its head and the symptoms return or come back in different form.  It must be visited again to clear the infection completely.  The wound we might rather choose to live with almost perfectly well, He wants to make truly well, restoring us to real and complete health.  We could function okay enough without going there but it would be stunted growth, our health always compromised by the unfinished work.  Just as with our physical body, a good doctor seeks to uncover the root cause of the problem and not just treat the symptoms.

So, again, He asks for me to share my symptoms.

Lord, I get so angry sometimes.

Lord, sometimes I feel like I'm worth nothing.

Lord, I was so jealous the other day.

Lord, my heart.  It just...hurts.

He listens and then carefully and precisely and slower than I would often like, He reveals the wounds that might be causing it all.  He probes it just a little bit more and it stings yet again, revealing deeper parts that I didn't even know were underneath it all that need to be taken care of first.  Cutting a bit of tissue away here, suturing a bit there, doing the work He must do to heal.  

We'll need to let this part rest now.  
Come back and see me in a few weeks.

1 comment

  1. I think this post deserves a ton of comments. I think everyone has an annoying confession list like a song on repeat, a really annoying remix of a song the priest has heard a million times. At least you keep going to confession.


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