HUFFINGTON POST

The Power Of Confession

ROME, ITALY - APRIL 26:  A pilgrim confess to a priest during a Mass celebration in front of the Church of Santa Agense in Ag
ROME, ITALY - APRIL 26: A pilgrim confess to a priest during a Mass celebration in front of the Church of Santa Agense in Agona, at Piazza Navona on April 26, 2014 in Rome, Italy. Dignitaries, heads of state and Royals from Europe and across the World are gathering in the Vatican ahead of tomorrow's canonisations. The late Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonised on Sunday April 27, inside the Vatican when 800,000 pilgrims from around the world are expected to attend. (Photo by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

I belong to a church that isn’t big enough to afford its own building, so we pay rent to another congregation and meet in their sanctuary in the evening. We’re the third group to hold a service in the room that day. The other renters, a group of Ghanian Christians, burn incense during their mid-day devotion. The musk of their worship hangs low in the air when we arrive.

We sing a few songs, then roll down creaky kneelers from the pews in front of us and settle onto them to confess our sins publicly. We don’t stand up and tell everyone we snapped at our spouse or drank too much last weekend or didn’t give money to the homeless man. Instead, we read a more generic written prayer together, then confess our specific sins silently.

I like this. I am on the hook for what I did, but nobody knows exactly what I’m ashamed of thinking or doing since last Sunday. Still, I’m chastened by the words printed on the bulletin I clutch while propped uncomfortably on my kneecaps: I have sinned against God “in thought, word, and deed,” by what I’ve both done and not done. “We are truly sorry,” I say with the others, “and we humbly repent.”

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