In retrospect, I have wondered if I just assumed that churches had confessions before daily Masses. To this day, I don't know if there were supposed to be confessions that day or not.
Finally one of the church ladies asked me if I was waiting for confession. I told her I was, and she offered to go get Father. There would have been times where I would have just died before agreeing to that, but at this point, I was going to confession. Before Mass. After Mass. If I had to hunt the priest down myself. I was not leaving without confessing. Maybe that was the Holy Spirit - inspiring that boldness. I was only a little nervous.
A couple of minutes later, the priest arrived, dressed in khakis and a sweater. I have known him for a long time, so I was not offended when he asked me, "is this going to take long?" I knew that Mass was scheduled to start soon. I told him that if he didn't talk too much, it surely wouldn't. I think he told me that he had just gotten back from the Saints' Monday Night Football Game in New Orleans.
And so we entered the confessional. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned...it's been about 8 years....
It didn't take long. It had been a while and I had "stuff', but it was mostly the same stuff over and over, which makes for a pretty short list. I really didn't even attempt "the small stuff". I just went with the major [mortal] items. We were sitting face-to-face...he had his eyes closed...and I was genuinely amazed at the time that he did not even bat an eye. He didn't gasp in horror. He just listened. And because most of it were things that were over and done with, I don't think he even commented much.
Actually, I don't remember what, if any, counsel he gave. I don't remember what my penance was. I think he told me to say my Act of Contrition later. I do know that I floated out of that confessional. There was so much weight that was lifted - just like that. I floated for days...I know I did.
I sat down in the pew afterwards. I hadn't intended to go to Mass, but I figured I might as well while my soul was in a state of grace. I remember the sensation like that of a warm blanket - fresh out of the dryer - around my shoulders. A divine embrace?
I received Communion for the first time in a long time.
Later at home, I shared my good fortune with my BFF by email. How I wish I still had a copy of that email!
There were graces in the days that followed. It was a wonderful time. I shared my joy with anyone who would listen!
Christmas came a week later, and what a special Christmas it was to receive Jesus and to have a soul ready to welcome him into my life.
Today is an anniversary that I will remember fairly privately, but I am so thankful. This event was life-changing and life-giving.
As divine providence would have it, I was scheduled today to serve at Mass this morning! What a privilege! What a way to celebrate!