If only I could stop my tears for having offended God so…
The other day, my youngest child (and two of her cousins) received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the very first time.
It was a very very precious day for those children. It was a day when their souls were wiped clean for the very first time since their Baptism. It was the day when they could be born again.
On that day, after my daughter received the sacrament, members of my family also had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I asked my sons – her older brothers – if they would like to confess. My younger boy was happy to run in there for confession. He loves the idea that he has a second chance after he has committed a sin. He loves the idea that God will say, “It’s okay. Try again. Let’s start again.” He loves knowing that if he just does this very little thing, he can go to Heaven. It is his safety net.
But this time, my eldest child hesitated slightly. He is slightly older than the other two…
You see, in that parish, children under the age of 15 are not normally allowed to attend Confession within a confessional. The children are encouraged to confess their sins face to face with the priest in an open part of the church where they are supervised. When I asked my son why he did not wish to receive the sacrament today, he told me, “It’s embarrassing Mum. I don’t want to sit there where the priest and everyone can see me.”
I went into confess my own sins and while I was there, I mentioned my son’s dilemma to the priest, and he kindly directed my son to the confessional, where he received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. All was well, in the end.
But this reaction of my rapidly maturing child started me thinking…
Because this reluctance to be embarrassed by our human failings is terribly terribly common. I have often heard stories about people driving significant distances from their homes, just so that they would not be confessing to a priest who they knew. They were seeking an unknown priest.
I do not criticise them at all. In fact, I have great admiration for the soul that embraces the Sacrament of Reconciliation despite feeling the full weight of embarrassment for their sins – those souls follow the example of Simon Peter – they humbly repent their sins, no matter how great they may appear.
When I was younger, I was very much like this. I worked in the city, and enjoyed receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the city churches during the daytime, because I always said, “Those priests in the city have heard everything. So surely my sins are not so shocking to them and I do not need to be embarrassed.”
I have a different perspective now.
In those days I confessed my sins in the way of my younger son – casting them off to secure Heaven for eternity.
But now, I do not confess my sins merely to cast them off and secure a place in Paradise – though I know that this is what is offered to me through this most Blessed Sacrament.
I confess my sins because I have offended my Blessed Lord.
I confess them because I have hurt my Beloved.
I confess them because I was wrong…
When I was a little girl, if I upset my mother, I was taught that I needed to say sorry. At first, I hated it, but I did it anyway, because I knew that I would not be allowed to come out of my room until I did so. I hated it because it humbled me to say sorry and in most cases, I was still angry and did not wish to apologise or give in or lose the argument.
But as I got older, things changed in my mind... I realised that when I said sorry to her, my mother would give me a cuddle and speak to me softly and tell me to try not to do it again.
And what I realised was that it was in those moments of apology that I felt most loved by my mother.
Confession does the same thing for me now.
To receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I am happy to confess my sins out loud in front of the entire world and though thankfully I am not called to do this, I would not care who heard. Because in confessing my sins to a priest, my soul speaks to my Beloved – and through the mouth of the priest, my Beloved gives me a cuddle and speaks to me softly and tells me to try not to do it again.
It is in those moments of apology that I feel most loved by my Beloved.
If only I could stop my tears for having offended Him so…
If only I could stop…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.