But don’t allow this uncomfortable feeling to be the barrier that prevents you from going. Rather, use the uncomfortable feeling as the trigger to motivate you to go. Hopefully, you can develop a desire to want to get rid of the sin that is a part of your life and what better way to do that than to go to confession.

A couple of practical suggestions for you: maybe you are uncomfortable because you are not sure what to say when you go to confession. If that is the case, simply ask the priest for help. What I tell people who are nervous when they come into the reconciliation room is, “Let’s just talk,” and we simply start talking about the sins for which the person needs forgiveness.

Another suggestion is prepare. Feel free to write notes if you need to; also feel free to bring a copy of the act of contrition with you if you don’t know it. Prepare in order to make yourself comfortable. 
Finally, there are two approaches you can take to the sacrament of reconciliation if you want to go on a regular basis.

1. You can find a regular confessor, a priest who you will go to every time you go to confession. This is beneficial if you are trying to work on something and you don’t want to have to explain yourself every time you go to confession.

2. If you prefer the anonymous approach, you can go to a different priest each time or simply kneel behind the screen when you go. This way you don’t need to feel embarrassed.  

Most people who go to confession will tell you that there is a great feeling that follows, knowing that God has forgiven you of all your sins. Give it a try; in the end you will be glad you did.

What is the difference between a miracle and magic?

To start to understand the difference, we need to look at the source of miracles and magic. Let’s start with magic. I love to do magic. I have a great trick in which I can pour water into a Styrofoam cup and then make the water disappear. I will often hold the cup that was just filled with water over someone’s head and then poke holes in to the cup, including a hole in the bottom. Nothing comes out! People are amazed at my power to make water disappear.
There is the key to magic. I, as the magician, am the source of the magic. I need to do my preparations to make my trick work and there is always a good explanation to how the trick worked. A good magician never reveals his tricks (and no, I am not going to tell you how I make water disappear).
Miracles, on the other hand, are something that comes from the hand of God. They cannot be easily explained. We believe that God is present in our lives and takes an active part in our lives. While we are not robots of God, because we have free will, we also believe that God can work in and through our lives. God does answer prayer.

Sometimes we say it was a miracle when something unusual or unexpected happens to us. “It was a miracle that I got an A on the test” or “it was a miracle that he made the half-court shot in the basketball game.” While we  
use the term “miracle” in these cases, sometimes that is just plain luck.
A true miracle comes from God. A true miracle helps us to see the work of God in our lives and in our world. In the Gospels, Jesus performed many miracles and each of the miracles was meant to strengthen faith and point people toward God. Jesus wasn’t a magician, he was the Son of God and all of his miracles point back to God. Our faith is deepened when we experience a true miracle.

The key to knowing the difference between magic and miracles is, “Who is the source?” We rely upon God for all things; he is the source for all we need.
(Fr. Herda, ordained in 1990, is pastor of St. Monica Parish, Whitefish Bay, and St. Eugene Parish, Fox Point. If you would like to submit a question you’ve always wanted to ask a priest, e-mail it to ruscht@archmil.org and place “Ask Fr. Jerry” in the subject line.)