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The Meaning of Confession

“I prayed to the Lord, my God, and made confession ...” – Daniel 9:4 (NRSV)

Photo by Sarah Brun

Growing up Catholic and attending Catholic school, I was well versed in all aspects of Confession, the Catholic definition. Confession was mandatory, at least once a week, generally on Saturdays.

Since I was always the “good kid” of the family (just ask my brothers!) I never had anything to confess when I was age 5, which the younger priests took in stride. 3 Hail Marys later and I would be on my way. Then there was old Father MacArthur. To this day, the very name brings up fear and apprehension! Whenever he was “on duty” for Confession, I would walk into the dark confessional booth, shoulders hunched, a lamb going to slaughter. If I stated my usual “I have no sins to confess,” hellfire and brimstone would erupt like a volcano from the mouth of Father MacArthur. One would think he’d just had the misfortune of hearing the confession of a 5-year-old serial killer! I was sure all of Fairfax City could hear his yelling! “I know you’ve sinned, no one is without sin,” he would proclaim, “CONFESS!” So, after barely surviving this harangue several times, I decided in order to save myself from this weekly horror, I would make up “sins” to appease him. I would regale him with accounts of my misspent days disobeying my mom, arguing with my brother, etc. Then, to make sure I was right with God, I would confess to lying.

Thus, was my introduction to Confession!

I have been a happy Methodist for decades now and know, even as I did at age 5, that there is no reason I can’t have a direct relationship with God and confess my sins directly to Him and ask His forgiveness. He doesn’t yell or talk down to me, just listens, and I know that I am forgiven and will always be His not-so-perfect-but-always-striving-to-be-better child, and will be loved even when I can’t keep my cool in traffic or am impatient with a co-worker. This, to me, is the true meaning of Confession.

About Peggy Lawlor
I attend the Contemporary service. In the past, I have helped at the Food Pantry, JNS, Youth Group and Council, Communion Server, a mission trip with S.T.A.R.T, worked with Helping Children Worldwide (Sierra Leone), Kenya Mission Project, and also served on the Missions Committee as well as other duties as a Lay Servant.

The Discipline of Confession
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Sunday, September 26, 2021

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We offer both in-person and livestream services on Sundays at 9 am (Traditional) and 11 am (Contemporary)  Please join livestream worship here: Worship Livestream Event 


St. Thomas UMC
8899 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20110

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