Happy Wednesday! I hope hump day is going well for you. I’m sorry again that I missed yesterday’s post but I did do something pretty great. I finally went to confession!
Can I tell you a dirty little secret? I’ve only been to confession 1 and a 1/2 times in my life
But but but did you notice I said 1 and a 1/2? Aren’t you the least bit curious with what that’s all about? Cause I’ve got a story to tell!!
It all begins sixish years ago. I was in RCIA with Sister Eileen and it was time to make my first confession. Being raised some kinda crazy Southern Baptist (more on that in another post) I was taught that the only person who could forgive you was Jesus himself and that those weirdo heretic Catholics confessed to their priests and oh! The scandal! The heresy! It was simply not to be borne! So I was very nervous walking into the church for confession. I was also really excited to go into one of those closet confessionals that I’d seen on TV. Dim lighting and anonymity sounded really good to me. I mean, penance and reconciliation with God was nice but guys. Those closet things. You can see the appeal right?
Alas! It simply was not to be.
I walked into a VERY brightly lit room and sat in a folding chair across from a handsome and very young, newish priest. I said the proper words and confessed all my sins, including the sin of living with my then fiancé. Let me tell you something. I should not have said anything about the sin of living with my then fiancé. BIG mistake.
The priest very nicely smiled at me and told me that it was good I had come to confession but he could NOT absolve me of my sins. I needed to go home and tell my fiancé I was moving out and we needed to live separately and chastely until the wedding day. He said once I had moved out I could come back for absolution. I sat there with a nervous smile superglued to my face and my brain in a weird fog. I just nodded at the priest, murmured some appreciative and agreeable things and stumbled out of there.
It wasn’t until I was out in the parking lot that it really hit me. I was NOT forgiven. There was a limit to God’s mercy and I had overstepped those bounds. It didn’t matter to God and the priest that if I left my home I had nowhere else to go. It was a bad thing and I was a bad person. I’ll admit that I cried for a bit standing on the front steps but I then walked over to Sister Eileen’s house to tell her the bad news. I managed to pull myself together enough to knock on the door but as soon as I saw Sister I started crying again and somehow babbled enough of the story that she got the gist of it.
Have you ever seen a nun get mad? Boy have I ever. She was not a happy nun. She ranted a little bit about snobby priests and how some of the older, widowed members of the congregation lived together and what was the big deal anyway? Someone wanted to come into the church and you turned them away? Outrageous! It wasn’t like we weren’t planning on getting married. Who did he think he was? And she cursed a little bit. 0_0
When she was done she wiped away my tears and told me not to worry about a thing, she would talk to monsignor first thing in the morning and get it all straightened out. The next day I got a very apologetic phone call from the monsignor and we made an appointment for a private confession and I was forgiven straight away and I had no mishaps for the rest of my conversion.
It did leave me with a bad taste in my mouth for confession though so I’ve avoided it ever since. I think I had this vague idea in the back of my head that confessing everything on my death bed would be easier than being told I wasn’t going to be forgiven. What actually happened was that I felt I couldn’t approach the Eucharist or mass without this feeling of inadequacy so I decided to bite the bullet and go. To a priest I didn’t know. At a church I don’t go to. After I made sure that confession was in one of those anonymous closet things.
First off, I love the closet thing. It was still really bright in there but the anonymity and the enclosed space actually made me feel very safe. I guess it’s a weird Catholic thing.
Secondly, I was actually absolved of my sins the first time around which was a nice change of pace. I feel light and airy and I am looking forward to Sunday so that I can feel more comfortable there.
Moral of the story is: If your confessor is young, handsome, and in a brightly lit room with folding chairs you should go somewhere else. Also, even if it’s been a long time, even if you’re afraid, you should go back to confession. Our God is merciful and loving. There is no sin too great that he cannot forgive, no penitent heart that he could deny. Love and trust in the Lord and go out and do better next time.
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