Saturday, 10 December 2011


Image © 2011 Gregory Watson

Oil on Canvas. 16" x 20"
One of the most surprising joys of becoming a Catholic has been the Sacrament of Reconciliation (popularly known as "Confession"). I say "surprising", because the notion of having to tell one's sins to another human being grates against the pride and the shame that makes us want to hide the darker parts of our souls. That such a humiliating experience could be described as "joyful" is counter-intuitive, at best.

Yet, as St. James tells us, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). It is in the very act of humbly confessing our sins that we are forgiven them. As the Psalmist wrote, "Because I was silent my bones grew old; whilst I cried out all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened. I have acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin" (Psalm 31:3-5).

We believe that God has given the authority to forgive sins in His name to His priests (John 20:21-23; James 5:14-16). In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they stand in persona Christi--in the very person of Christ. When we confess our sins, it is not the priest who is there, listening to us--but it is actually Christ Himself. I tried to depict this truth by representing Jesus in the priest's alb and purple stole, which is worn during the rite of Confession.

The image itself was inspired by my personal experience of Absolution in the Sacrament of Confession. My priest, immediately before the words of absolution, will often stand and place his hand on my head, and pray silently over me, finishing with an extemporaneous prayer about being at the foot of Calvary and having Jesus blood flowing down and washing me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. After this prayer, he pronounces the blessing of absolution, and then the joy of this Sacrament is experienced--as I leave the Confessional filled with the grace, love, and forgiveness of Jesus!

The original painting is still available for sale!
Please email me at doubting-thomist @ hotmail . com or leave a comment here if you'd like to order any of the following:
  • Original Oil Painting (20" x 16") (unframed): $450.00 (CAD)
  • Full size (20" x 16") limited edition high quality giclée print (unframed): $40.00 (CAD)
  • Full size (20" x 16") limited edition high quality giclée print (framed): $75.00 (CAD)
  • Image on 4¼" x 5½" Greeting Card (blank): $1.50 (CAD)

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