A Catholic Convert Confesses All
CINCINNATIFor many Catholics, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be daunting.
Owning up to one's sins and imperfections is hard enough; telling those infractions
to a priest can be outright intimidating. But for Elizabeth Ficocelli, a convert
to Catholicism, this sacrament offers endless blessings and has become an invaluable
key to her faith journey.
Elizabeth Ficocelli's examination of Reconciliation and her journey
of forgiveness are featured in an article in the March issue of St. Anthony
Messenger, entitled "Confessions of a Catholic Convert." In it, the author
uncovers the hidden beauty of this misunderstood sacrament and illustrates its
riches. After February 18, the article will be posted at: AmericanCatholic.org.
It took a long while for Ficocelli to appreciate the act of confession
fully. She grew up as a Lutheran, for whom seeking forgiveness involved the
entire congregation standing up, facing the altar and reading aloud a statement
of confession. The pastor would turn to the congregation and read a response.
To Ficocelli, this seemed tidy and convenient.
"I don't remember feeling heartily sorry for my sinsor heartily
forgiven, for that matterit was just a part of our Sunday worship," Ficocelli
writes. Years later, as a catechumen preparing for marriage, Reconciliation
was unsatisfying. Like a brief chat with a kind stranger, she admitted her sins,
was quickly absolved and sent on her way.
She discovered the beauty of Reconciliation after a string of sleepless nights
caring for her newborn left Ficocelli exhausted and irritable. Lashing out at
her four-year-old son, she was filled with shame and regret. She sought forgiveness
from her son and her husband, but she wanted God's forgiveness above all and
opened herself to the sacrament.
After confessing her sins and receiving absolution, Ficocelli experienced
something remarkablelike someone poured a bucket of water over her head, cleansing
her of guilt and regret. "I recognized at once that God was giving me a hit
over the head, an unmistakably clear sign that I was truly forgiven," she writes.
From that experience, Ficocelli was able to forgive herself as well.
Since then, she sees confession as sacreda way of unburdening the
weight of her sins. Confession is no longer a tense-filled exercise in embarrassment,
shame and self-loathing, but rather an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and
"At last, I experience confession the way I believe God has always intended
it: as a great gift."
Permission is granted to reprint this release.