So today (Monday) was pretty intensely awesome. And awesomely intense. It all started when I was still sleeping, actually.
I was having this dream about random and varied things. But suddenly, in my dream, everything was dark. I was lying on my bed, eyes half closes. And I felt something attacking me, weighing down on me. My hand covered in a blanket, I tried pushing it off-but it clamped its mouth down on my hand and held on. I knew that this was a demon. The demon was pushing down on me, not letting go. I struggled, said a prayer, and it was gone. I opened my eyes, and everything was bright. And I woke up.
Well, my day continued on relatively smoothly after an intense dream like that. I randomly got a call from the convent, and Sr. Mary Agnes invited me to a picnic with the Handmaids of Mary. So I went to the convent, hung out, played games, had fun. Then I went to the IHM Novena. It was a good talk, about Cardinal Newman's devotion to Mary. Admittedly, during about half of the talk, I was zoning out, because I was thinking about the Joyful Heart of the Blessed Trinity (more on that may come in a later post eventually). Well, after the talk there was Adoration. And Confession.
It had been a long time since I had gone to Confession. About two and a half weeks. For me, that is a long time...see, a couple years back, when I really started getting my faith life together, I grew to love Confession. I would go once a week most of the time. In fact, the week that I was confirmed as a freshman, I went TWICE in that week! I found that with Confession, it was a lot easier to grow in holiness. I was avoiding sin more, and my prayer life was more intense.
Then I would go through cycles of frequent Confession, not frequent Confession. And I noticed something: when I went a couple of weeks without Confession, I would start lapsing into sin more often, and my prayer life would grow to be more lax. However, when I was going to Confession on a weekly basis, I was more on top of my prayer life, and was more in tune with God.
So far this summer, I have been pretty lax on Confession. Three weeks might go by without Confession. And I've noticed the effects. Well, I also thought about how after Confession, I always go back and commit the same sins again and again. And that's a discouraging thought. But, I was blessed to have a very good conversation with some dear friends of mine the other night. In the course of the conversation, one of them said something to the effect of "Confession isn't meant to take you back to the place where you started; it's meant to take you further." Whoa. Confession is not supposed to take you back to the beginning. Confession is not a do-over. Confession is a try-again--with extra graces intact.
But in order for Confession to fully help you, you must really let go of that sin and let the graces work. Going back to my dream....
There was a demon in the darkness. A demon that wouldn't let go. He wanted me. He wanted to live in unity with me. He would not get off of my chest; he even clamped his mouth down on my hand.
We all have sins that won't go away. The demons sit on our chests, holding us down with a particular sin. And after a while, we can think that the struggle is too much. That demon refuses to get off, so we might as well let him stay. So the demon just sits there comfortably, covering us in darkness.
But we are called to shove that demon off. In my dream, I began to struggle. I tried to push that demon off, but he only clamped down harder. Still, I took my hand (which was covered in a blanket) and pulled it out of his mouth. Shoving, pushing, heaving-I got the demon off of me. And then I saw light. And I woke up.
When we go to Confession, we are shoving that demon off of our chests. As the priest gives us the absolution, the demon is falling off of our chests. The darkness falls away with the demon, and our eyes are opened to the light of Christ. In Confession tonight, I experienced this. The demon that was holding me down with a few particular sins was shoved off with absolution, and I saw the light. I experienced freedom, and sitting in Adoration after Confession, felt a complete and utter joy and intensity. I was breathing hard. God is so good! I highly encourage that if you are a person who goes to Confession once in a blue moon, maybe rethink that schedule. I'm not saying that everyone should go once a week. But, Confession--when used properly--provides many graces and strengths to help us on the pathway to holiness.
Confession helps us shove that demon off of our chests.