Roman Thoughts: On Confessing in Another Language

I am chaperoning a high school trip to Rome this week.  First, let me say how wonderful it is to see teenagers phoneless and agape.

Anyway.

The first church we visited was Santa Maria Maggiore, a 4th century basilica which contains a relic of the manger and the tomb of Bernini.  Pope Francis celebrated his first papal Mass there.  The basilica also makes confession available in many languages.

An English-speaking priest was not available for confession, so I braved the sacrament in Spanish.  In doing so I realized something very beautiful about confessing in another language.  Sins cannot be veiled in rhetoric.

English: “Father, there are times when I don’t speak well of people in front of others.”

Spanish: “Soy chismosa.” (I am a gossip.)

The simplicity required to stumble through confession in a foreign language fosters a joyful sense of culpability – culpability because the honest state of the soul must be laid bare, joy because this is the path beyond condemnation to forgiveness.

Jane Sloan

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B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at www.thesavagepalate.blogspot.com

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