Last week I offered some general notes about how members of different religious or spiritual traditions practice Confession. Please see that post for background information.
This week I want to focus on those who practice Confession in the context of a belief in God. Later in this series I can talk about Confession for those who do not and for those who are not sure what to believe.
Whether a person who believes in God also believes in judgement after death or not, the key question is the same. Are they living in right relationship with God or not?
In short the choices we make in terms of beliefs, thoughts, and actions are of great importance. For those who believe in God every thought, choice, and action is either moving them into deeper communion with God or further away.
If one has entertained vicious and self-centered thoughts, or behaved in a greedy or an evil manner, they can return to the path of righteousness by following the practice of Confession and Atonement called for in their tradition.
The act of breaking out of one’s denial and hypocrisy and admitting small or grievous breaches of the chosen moral law is humbling and disruptive but nevertheless very beneficial. One is freed from the disfiguring pretense they are more moral or righteous than they actually are.
The next steps of turning to God with humility, making a sincere act of contrition, and asking for pardon are equally effective at deflating the diseased and inflamed ego. Making a sincere commitment to change one’s ways and following through on those commitments to the best of one’s ability is another vital part of this process. It is also an essential part of the process of building character and maturity.
All of these practices refine the sensitivities of the believer. They are able to perceive God’s ways and living presence in ways they previously could not. Even if they fall again, which sadly is likely, the process can be repeated assuming one is not mocking or trying to con God with some lifeless or mechanical pretense.
Gaining this greater sensitivity has the following effect:
They come to know a more intimate blending of their life with God’s living presence within them.
In short they are falling deeper in love with their beloved. Both the giving and receiving of that love are more delicate, sustaining, and beautiful.
Their relationships with mortals are also enriched and more fulfilling.
For those who do not believe in God, the details of and experiences of this process are different but no less profound. For those who are not sure what to believe, their efforts with these practices will help them to decide one way or the other whether God does or does not exist.
What do you believe is the difference between a moral and an immoral life?
What code or set of laws do you rely upon to help you decide what is permissible behavior?
When you do something selfish or greedy or cruel how do you repair the damage to your self, to others, and to all who live?
Please let me know what you think. Let me know what you find.
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness”, Host of Meditationpractice.com