Why Confession is Vital to human health!

by Frank Muller

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In counseling men (and being counseled myself) in dealing with serious struggles I have learned that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to change is confession. Human beings have an amazing ability to lie, hide, obfuscate, and evade the Truth.

At the root of all sin and dysfunction is pride, that is we become our own god. This is why so many Christians in particular love to interpret Scripture in a way that allows them to hide all their sins and simply mutter to themselves “Lord, forgive me!” Make no mistake, that is a good thing, but it is an inherently insufficient thing, and our Lord tells us that by giving us the sacrament of confession.

However, this missive will not deal directly with sacramental confession but rather take a reasoned and tested approach to show the Truth of the matter. As most of us know, the twelve-step program was developed initially to help Alcoholics deal with their addiction. Today, this twelve -step program is applied to sexual addictions, gambling, anger, and the whole host of human sins and depravity.

Below are the twelve steps:

Step 1: We admit we are powerless over our addiction – that our lives have become unmanageable

Prayer is a common part of 12 step programs.

Most people believe in the authority of will-power and hold addicts responsible for their inability to control their behavior. However, Step 1 asks the addict to release themselves from responsibility for their addiction and to admit that they cannot and will not ever be able to indulge in addictive substances or behaviors with any degree of safety. This is the act of denial of self, and it does not deprive a person, it frees the person from the things that enslave us.

Step 2: Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

“Power greater than ourselves” is very important because we are spiritual creatures and without a right ordering, we become lost. Prayer is connected to this because we turn our inner dialogue to a conversation with ourselves (and remember we are the addict) and turns the conversation over to a power that wants to love us and help us.

Step 3: Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

After surrendering our free will by the act of our free will to God we can then participate and cooperate with our recovery because we make a choice to choose sobriety, to choose recovery.

Step 4: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

This step is mental housekeeping. The addict, over time, collects fears and self-judgments. Step 4 asks that all of that built up waste be removed to make room for recovery. This is the relentless and daily examination of our conscience seeking to identify all the accumulated rot in our lives and begin to apply to each piece of rot the same process as we slowly free ourselves of sin.

Step 5: Admit to God, admit to our inner heart; and admit to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

Step 5 asks that the addict take their mental inventory and share it with an objective listener. Without giving voice to the collected fears and judgements, there is the possibility that they could remain internalized and impede recovery. Here is the crux! All psychotherapy leads to confession. Dr. Jung correctly identified in my view when he said, ” I would lose 99% of my patients if they simply went to weekly Catholic confession”. What stops us – Pride and we find we have not really followed the first step. Thus, the cycle repeats and failures beget more failures. If we hold it all inside, we are lost. When we confess fully, deeply, painfully we begin to become free!

Step 6: We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

In step 6, the thoughts and fears of step 4 and 5 should be ready to be cleansed. Once again, without the tears and complete unmasking of our soul we stay trapped. Go to the doctor and metaphorically become naked. Just as in the Garden of Eden, sins can cause us to be ashamed and hide and perversely it now becomes a prison. People would sometimes rather stay in prison than be free because being free demands a real and contrite confession.

Step 7: Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings

Step 7 makes action after the readying of step 6 is established. With or without a traditionally defined higher power, this step is about willingness to surrender the thoughts and actions that contribute to the addiction. Let them go. Once again, we like to hold onto our sins. I promise, tonight will be the last time I get drunk! Hmmm…. I bet that has been said a billion times.

Step 8: Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all

Up to this point, all the present mental baggage has been collected and is in the process of being purified. Step 8 uses the previous pattern and applies it to the past. Now, the addict must be open about their behavior and the effect it had on others. Once again, another person needs to be involved beyond the confessor and that is the victim. Justice demands repentance and making amends. Like the act of confession, the act of restitution is a stumbling block. Why? Pride again. Sometimes in life it is not possible to make up the person harmed but we can now serve those who have been similarly hurt and make amends that way as well.

Step 9: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

After the gathering of Step 8, Step 9 asks the addict to act. With every situation that is dealt with, a small amount of renewal occurs. Each act of forgiveness act as proof of positive progression. This notion of justice because for some victims and certain sins and crimes the act of amendment would be too painful upon the victim. Justice must be served and occasionally the perpetrators can fall into the same trap of blaming the victim and stumble here as well.

Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong and promptly admit it

Step 10 is a repeat of steps 4 through 9. An addict should be developing a daily practice that keeps them mindful of their thought and behaviors. Here is another area where our culture simply says to those, we disagree with you are wrong. Instead of seeking truth we simply attack. What keeps us from holding ourselves accountable to another person when we are wrong – you guessed it – Pride!

Step 11: Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

Step 11 suggests prayer and meditation. The addict should take the time to pray. Pray is not taking 10 seconds to say Grace before a meal. Prayer that changes can take an hour a day. If we want to save our lives, love our families and friends, we must turn off the TV and pray to our Creator. So many people stumble here as well as the substitute a new addiction in order to avoid prayer. Now it becomes Candy Crush, or social media or golf…

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to other addicts’ “sinners”, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

This means that we are grateful for God’s help in this journey and our lives become transformed by helping others to take the same narrow path.

I pray that this missive may speak to souls who are longing to be unburdened. If you are struggling with any form of addiction, compulsion or chronic loss of virtues please go to the appropriate place and begin unburdening your heavy load. There is Grace and Love waiting for you from people who can share with you the path to freedom. It is hard, it is long, but the journey has infinite rewards.

May Peace be with us all.

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2 thoughts on “Why Confession is Vital to human health!

  1. Only wanna remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the written content is very excellent. “Art for art’s sake makes no more sense than gin for gin’s sake.” by W. Somerset Maugham.

    Liked by 1 person

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