Friday, January 7, 2011
Confession must be one of my favorite topics to write about, judging from the tags on the side of this blog.
Once upon a time, I had been away from this sacrament for many years and had quite a list that needed to be dealt with. I was like a fish on a hook; caught, but trying valiantly to escape. I scoured the internet looking for a loophole that was going to let me out of confession. But in that vast universe of information, I didn't find a single "out". Not even email confession. And in all of that looking and searching, I read. Reading other people's experiences was comforting to me. I could see that they went in and survived and lived to tell their story. Eventually I found the courage to go, and that was a life-changing experience for me. So maybe that is why I write so frequently about it.
In music, a grace note is a note added in. It's not part of the main melody - just kind of an embellishment. Often I find that in confession. Something that is not part of confession/absolution formula, but something that makes the experience that much better.
When I was thinking about this post (it's been in the thinking stage for a while) I was thinking that this mostly happens with my current confessor. But that's not true. The reason I recognize it now is the frequency with which it happens. When you are on the once-maybe-twice-a-year confession schedule, you don't have much to compare it to. When you are going every month or so, you are better acquainted with this grace. I think that I am not exaggerating too much if I say that I went to confession more in the past year than I did in all of my 20's and 30's combined.
There was a time in my 20's, when a relationship that I had invested three years in had ended, made worse by the fact that the guy I had been dating had found a new relationship with one of my old friends. A few months after the break-up, still mourning, I went on a retreat. One of our priests from the Catholic student center came to hear confessions. I don't remember exactly what I confessed, but I remember him asking, "If these people were really your friends, would they have treated you like this?" So simple, so obvious, and so what I needed to hear. It changed the whole way I was looking at things, and then healing was able to begin. A grace note.
That was probably my last good confession until I was in my 30's. I went to confession every year or so for a lot of years, but I thought you could just confess the sins you were willing to stop, and just keep going with the other ones. Not so, folks! Not surprisingly, there wasn't much grace in those. Then I got to that fish-on-a-hook stage that I mentioned above. When I finally found the courage and humility to walk into a church and lay everything at the Lord's feet in a confessional one cold, Advent afternoon, the graces just rained down. It was the most amazing thing. One thing that could only have come from God - resentments that I had held for years were erased from memory.(and I didn't confess anything to do with resentments) Like someone had taken one of those flashy-thingies from Men In Black and just erased them. And there was more - some of it still too personal to go into - but God was very generous.
Sometimes, there have been little annoying things that I have been powerless to stop. One thing in particular, was being late for daily Mass. I know that there is no obligation to attend daily Mass, so who knows if being late for something you don't have to attend is a sin? But I was habitually arriving a minute or two or three after Mass started. And when Mass only lasts 25 minutes - every minute really does count. Besides, it is distracting to others and I had no good reason for being late. Jesus deserved better. Finally, I confessed it. That was over a year ago, maybe two, and I have not had to confess it again. Grace? You bet!
I could go on. I have so many examples. But I'll end here. Maybe I'll revisit this another time, if it's something other people care to read.
My bottom line - God is waiting for you there. GO!
9-25-11 Editting to add the picture...(the post looked lonesome in the sidebar with no picture) I got the picture in an email. I don't know who the artist is, but it is beautiful. Also...if this post spoke to you, there is another similar post here.