Why is the Ruth Institute encouraging people to go to confession?
Glad you asked. Our mission is to find Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. We are convinced that people’s guilty consciences keep them from listening to and truly loving their family members. Going to confession is a great way for us to heal our consciences, and thereby make ourselves more available to our family members.

What makes you think guilty consciences have anything to do with family problems?
We all do things for which we need to apologize. We all have people in our lives whom we ought to forgive. Toxic shame can get in the way of our doing both things.

Wait: how do you know literally everyone needs to apologize and forgive?
I know our species.

Oh please.
No really. We at the Ruth Institute hear from people all the time who have been harmed by family breakdown. They find there is no room in their family system for them to share how painful the situation really was.

Can you give an example?
Sure. Children of divorce find it very hard to say things like this to their parents, “Mom, it was awful for me when I was the flower girl at your second wedding. That was the day I knew for sure that you and Dad were never going to get back together again. I wanted to be happy for you, but I just couldn’t be.” This (now adult) child really wants to hear her mother say that something unjust and wrong happened. But because the mom feels guilty about it, she can’t even entertain the thought. If the mom could unburden her conscience, she would be much more likely to be able to listen to her daughter. They could be much closer. I think most adult children of divorce would like to forgive their parents. I could give many other examples.

Will this really help my family life?
Try it. Once you have unburdened your conscience, you will feel better. And you may be easier to live with.

Can’t we just forgive ourselves and move on?
You can try. The question is: will that be enough for anyone you may have harmed? Will you really be able to receive what they have to say, and make amends to them? Based on my observations, I am not optimistic that “forgiving ourselves” does the job.

I’m not ready to talk to a priest or anyone else about this stuff. What should I do?
Congratulations. Just saying this is a step forward. It means you know there is an issue in your life that you should address. Steps 2 and 3 of our Seven Steps to Sexual Peace may be of help to you. But sooner or later, you need to allow Jesus to heal you.

Is Jesus really waiting for me?
Yes. Trust me on this.

But I’m not Catholic. What does this have to do with me?
I urge you to do whatever your faith tradition teaches you to do about repentance, making amends, and forgiving others. If that doesn’t work, you can always consider becoming Catholic…

Still thinking about it? Talk to Thomas Acquinas and realize that the party's over.

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