I know what that’s like.
It’s been, what, a month since I was received into the church, and I’ve already come to realize that the only way I’m going to get down to confession is by making an appointment. If I know that the priest is there waiting for me, I have to go, and I do. At a scheduled time it is just too easy to walk away.
Remember that Satan doesn’t want us to have absolution and he will do whatever he can to prevent us from getting it. I have trouble talking to people, especially about deeply personal subjects, and there are so many things in my life that I would never breath to another soul save for the priest in the confessional. And the single, solitary, little lonely reason that I have been able to speak those words in the presence of a human being at all is by the glorious and powerful grace of God. Usually I can’t even believe what I’m doing until I’ve sat down and begun speaking, but once I leave the confessional I realize how glad I am that I just poured out my deepest, darkest secrets to a practical stranger…because he is not a practical stranger at all, he is acting as Jesus Christ, who is someone I know very well.
It always helps me to remember the fear that Jesus felt before His passion. I’ve written at the top of my confession lists before, “Jesus felt fear, too”. And knowing that the man from whom I am seeking forgiveness has felt this fear multiplied by so much more…it gives me strength.
(it also doesn’t hurt to remember that priests go to confession too, and they understand what it’s like just as well as you).
Now, what will NOT help is fearing that God will kill you. I’ve been there as well, being terrified that God will punish me by a premature death and a sentence to hell. It’s probably the worst thing you could do. Why? Because God is the most kind, most loving, most generous, most merciful, most understanding, most caring and faithful being in all of existence. He knows you’re afraid, He understands you’re afraid, and to think He will be enraged and strike you dead…well, who would go through the mental anguish of confession for a deity like that? You go to confession because you love God, and because you want to be reconciled into His good graces. If you despair of God’s mercy then that will only keep you farther away from this sacrament that you dearly need. Remember that there is not a single being that can even kinda match up to God’s mercy. It is infinite and eternal, and probably the best thing you can do is remember that all God wants is for you to want to be reconciled to Him.
And Holy Communion. Even more than confession, Satan wants to prevent us from receiving Holy Communion. I’ll admit - I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve gone to confession before, only to have the Eucharistic prayer begin and realize there is something I’ve done that I should have sought absolution for. It’s such a vulnerable moment because you’re trying to pay attention while simultaneously scrambling to think “WAS it mortal? DID I intentionally neglect to confess it?”. And usually I look back and realize it probably wasn’t mortal…but I will abstain, just in case. Just in case. I think that “Just in case” should be written on the official flag of scrupulosity and OCD everywhere. I can’t even tell you the ridiculous and idiotic things that I’ve done “Just in case”. "What if? What if? What if? What if? ? over and over and over and again until I’m about ready to give myself brain damage so that I can stop thinking it. I know…EXACTLY how you feel.
But the Eucharist is the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is Jesus in the flesh. It is a healing sacrament. We NEED it, with all our hearts and souls. How do you think the apostles and saints and martyrs managed to endure such horrible sufferings throughout their lives and in their death? Because Jesus was with them, in their hearts, in their spirits, but also physically, truly, and really right in front of them, right beside them, and fully within them. Without the Eucharist, how could such things be done?
Now, one minor problem is that it can turn into a bit of a vicious cycle. I was laughing to myself this morning about how I might need all the strength of communion to get to confession. But confession comes FIRST. Always. So how do we obtain the strength to go to confession? By prayer. Once you get to confession and then communion that first time, you can turn it into a routine, communion relying on confession and confession relying on communion, one after the other and the other after the one. But you need to get to confession that first time.
It could help to make an appointment for Sunday morning if you can’t find a church that has one scheduled. Make the best examination of conscience that you possibly can, be thorough and detailed and scrape through your entire life, so that even if you remember something, you can rest assured it was an honest mistake. (If you forget a sin, you may still receive communion, as long as it was honestly forgotten and you mention it the very next time you confess). Then immerse yourself in the words of the mass directly afterwards and don’t even think about sinning until you’ve received. On the day of my “first” communion last month, the one thing I could not get out of my head the entire mass was what would happen if I manage to sin, right here in mass, and I have to refuse communion in front of everybody? Those are the kinds of thoughts OCD gives you, but they are not real. OCD is a mental disorder and it can give you disordered thoughts that are no more than your brain being tricked into sending out false danger signals. You cannot sin by accident, ever. You cannot accidentally not be absolved, ever. They are not real, and you cannot let them prevent you from receiving communion, because communion is quite possibly the only thing that will help them go away.
I hope that you can find a solution to these troubles, my friend. I will be praying for you.