I subscribe to a website called Catholic Spiritual Direction. All their articles are excellent but today’s really blew me away. It gave me pause regarding the idea of going to confession regularly.
In response to a question about discerning matters involving infused contemplation (click on the link to find out more about this form of prayer – St. Theresa of Avila wrote a lot on this), the first paragraph of the answer really nailed it for me:
You are certainly right to call infused contemplation a gift. It is, at base, an experiential knowledge of God. It is made possible by the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Infused contemplation requires one to have sanctifying grace, that is, to be in a state of grace. This kind of prayer brings an experience of the presence of God and of a hard-to-describe sense of the supernatural. None of this is conjured up by the soul on its own; in fact, the soul is more passive than active when involved in this type of contemplation.
I have underscored the part that really jumped out at me – the need for sanctifying grace, the state of grace that comes from having your sins forgiven. When you go to confession (also known as the sacrament of reconciliation) and receive absolution from the priest, your soul is flooded with sanctifying grace. Slow as I am, I never realized the doors that can be opened by remaining in that state of grace.
Like most of us, I find it hard to go to confession and I have to admit, I sometimes find it hard to think of sins, showing how dull my spiritual life really is. An active and deep spiritual life shines a spotlight on my sins. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to have that self-knowledge and be able to act upon it in the confessional.
The writer goes on to say other profound things:
A high level of charity is one of the surest signs that you are experiencing true contemplation. That’s because real prayer has an impact on the way we deal with others; it moves us to try to imitate Christ more and more in daily life. All of this is a reminder that genuine inspirations of God always nudge us to do something good.
This is something I’ve experienced a bit in my life. When my prayer life is going well, it does prompt me to be kinder and more thoughtful to others. My desire to be holy and to imitate Christ begins to burn in me, and my hunger for Him becomes palpable.
Here is the link to the entire post. This is something you will want to pick apart, line by line. And then perhaps, like myself, you will want to start visiting that confessional more often.