Confession Leads to Joy

By Michael Fitzpatrick

Reading from Psalm 32

1 Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
and whose sin is put away!

2 Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
and in whose spirit there is no guile!

3 While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,
because of my groaning all day long.

4 For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;
my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and did not conceal my guilt.

6 I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.

7 Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in
time of trouble;
when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.

8 You are my hiding-place;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

9 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go;
I will guide you with my eye.

10 Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding;
who must be fitted with bit and bridle,
or else they will not stay near you.”

11 Great are the tribulations of the wicked;
but mercy embraces those who trust in the LORD.

12 Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the LORD;
shout for joy, all who are true of heart.


The psalm of confession. As a grateful Episcopalian, this is one of the sacraments I worry we have not kept present enough within our parish communities. Confession is not about guilt, but freedom. As much as I dread the thought of going before my priest and confessing my failures, the difference between carrying them alone and releasing them to God is worth all the struggle and embarrassment.

The psalmist goes so far as to tell us that the blessed are precisely those who have found forgiveness with God. There can be no forgiveness without first confessing and repenting of those deeds that need to be forgiven. The alternative of holding our sins to our chest in silence, is to waste away under the weight, losing our strength. It drains us, like enduring the humid summer heat of a Louisiana bayou (best food and people, but heavy moist air!).

Freedom comes when we acknowledge our sins and do not try to hide as Adam and Eve did in the garden. When we confess to the Lord, the psalmist simply says, “You forgave the guilt of my sin.” It is for freedom that Christ came!

“Mercy embraces those who trust in the LORD.” Let us trust in the Lord, and the next time we meet or webchat with our priest, may we consider asking for the sacrament of confession, the reconciliation of the penitent, to seek freedom in forgiveness from our great and merciful God. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who are true of heart!

Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in Philosophy at Stanford University and a student leader for the Episcopal-Lutheran Campus Ministry at Stanford. Michael attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, CA.

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