David Roberts, The Ascent to the Summit of Sinai (Gate of Confession), lithograph, 1839
Station Five: Confession
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; in your great compassion blot out my offenses. Wash me through and through from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. And so you are justified when you speak and upright in your judgment. Psalm 51:1-5
Bring into words what needs to be said, in a reverent bodily posture, maybe on your knees. Saint Thomas Aquinas characterizes qualities of a confession: simple, humble, plain, faithful, and also frequent, revealing, discreet, liberating, modest, complete, secret, sorrowful, swift, courageous, and accusing, and it must prepare one to carry out one's promises.
The Prodigal son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son," and the boy was right, as his older brother would remind us later. (Luke 15:25-32). Nevertheless, the father embraces the son, beside himself with joy. But in the moment of mercy, we're called again to a heightened alertness - we must become the grace we receive, in the mercy we give to others.
Now there is rejoicing in heaven; for you were lost, and are found; you were dead, and are now alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. Abide in peace. The Lord has put away all your sins. - Reconciliation, BCP p. 451
A Story about Love and Forgiveness
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him-- that she is a sinner."
Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you. "Teacher," he replied, "Speak."
"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt."
And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."