The Benefits of Confession

Some things that Lewis wrote about confession:

From a letter of Oct 13, 1961:

“Of course I have had and still have plenty of temptations. Frequent and regular prayer, and frequent and regular Communions, are a great help, whether they feel at the time as if they were doing you good or whether they don’t. I also found great help in monthly confession to a wise old clergyman.”

From a letter of Apr 6, 1953:

“there is the gain in self-knowledge [from confession]: most of [us] have never really faced the facts about ourselves until we uttered them aloud in plain words, calling a spade a spade. I certainly feel I have profited enormously by the practice.”

In the Russian Orthodox Church, confession is face-to-face with the priest. For me, admitting my sins to a priest, someone I know well, can be painful, and, therefore, for me, very cleansing and beneficial (interestingly, this also corresponds to step 5 of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”).

But during my last confession, I needed more. I needed advice on how to overcome the despondency which I have tended to feel more and more as I age (I’m 78) due to greater physical infirmities, and thinking that it will only get worse in the future.

The young priest immediately started telling me many good things, basically revolving around the words “Thy will be done” (God’s will, of course). It has helped me a great deal, realizing that God is always with me, no matter what. And although I have been a “cradle Christian”, actually putting these words into practice has not always been easy. Somehow, hearing them expressed with great conviction from the priest, who, as it happens, has a severely handicapped daughter, was very effective.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)