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Have confession anxiety? Our primer is here to help

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Confession gets a bad rap. Or at least that's how Missionhurst Father Pascal Kumanda, parochial vicar of St. Ann Church in Arlington, sees it. While we might equate the sacrament with judgment and reprimand, it is actually God waiting for us "with open arms - not to judge, but to show … His love and care," he said.

Since we are in the midst of both the Year of Mercy and Lent, it's an especially fitting time to enter the confessional - and into the peace of forgiveness. During Lent we reflect on our ultimate end, which is heaven, said Father James R. Searby, parochial vicar of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington. And what better way to prepare for heaven than to rid oneself of sin and feel the limitless mercy of God?

As a way to help make the sacrament less intimidating, we've put together a confession primer, a kind of "Confession 101," for our first March issue. Along with a detailed description of the sacrament, we offer a step-by-step guide to cut out and carry into the confessional. There are suggestions to help encourage you to go, such as finding a "confession buddy," as well as an explanation of mortal and venial sins.

Even if you receive the sacrament regularly, we hope you'll find something to help deepen your experience or understanding of confession. We've included Father Searby's examination of conscience, which challenges us to look at sin and mercy in a new way, with questions like: "Where am I angry, depressed, discouraged, anxious, bitter or resentful?" and "What would I not want Him to see?"

We also provide information about the Light is On campaign, a joint initiative of the Arlington Diocese and Washington Archdiocese that offers the sacrament of reconciliation at parishes every Wednesday evening during Lent.

Don't miss our March 3 print issue for "A confession primer" and other Lenten-focused stories.

And remember, as Pope Francis says, "God never gets tired of forgiving us."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016