In yesterday’s post, Tomorrow May Not Come, I mentioned how, when examining my conscience before our parish communal penance service, I couldn’t think of any sins I had committed since my confession last Saturday. But, through a God-moment, I remembered there are two types of sins – Sins of Commission, things I’ve done wrong, and Sins of Omission, things I should have done but failed to do.
In the relatively short time I’ve been Catholic, I confess to you that I have never really understood the aspect of Sins of Omission until this last weekend when the two types were explained to me by a deacon. So, for the first time ever, I took time to examine my conscience in light of “what I had failed to do”. I didn’t come up with much but what I did find made the exercise worth doing.
I went to reconciliation last night and, to one of the four priests there, I confessed my sins of omission. And, I learned something interesting: most people focus on their wrong actions, their sins of commission, but very few take time to think about what they should have done but didn’t, their sins of omission. For when I told the priest the what and the why of the two things for which I was sorry, he said, “Whoa, wait a minute, it’s been years since anyone confessed to me what they have failed to do! Let me consider for a second what to do about this!” After a few moments he continued, “I’ll tell you what, it sounds like you know what you ought to do, so your penance is to go and do those things.” I think I heard a sigh of relief.
My guess is that most of you, when examining your own consciences, probably don’t think about your sins of omission. Maybe you ought to. Rise up and separate yourself from the crowd. It feels good to recognize those areas where you need to do better. And, as always, it feels good to receive forgiveness for them. But, there is something else: there’s just a touch of satisfaction in pitching a change-up and have the priest take it looking.
So, folks, when you take time for an examination of your conscience, consider your sins of omission. Broaden your repertoire. Then, instead of your usual fastball, go throw your priest a Confessional Curveball. He may appreciate it as much as you will.
(A Confessional Curveball was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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