Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Our Lord's Mercy, A Faithful Priest, And A Long Confession By:C.C.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation helped to ignite my desire to live a life of faith within the Catholic Church. It was a moment that I hold very dear to me within my spiritual journey and one that I know could only come from the grace of an all loving and faithful Father. It was after taking the step to reconcile myself with the Lord that I was provided with the grace to begin a journey back into the Church and heal some of the deepest hurts that were within me. Returning to the Confessional allowed me to return to our Lord.
As years go on and I strive in my brokenness to live a life of faith and surrender to God I am often brought to remember the moments of grace that helped to encourage me to further cooperate with our Lord's will. In respect for the Sacrament and the identity of the priest I will withhold certain details of this story. The reason for my sharing is so that others may be encouraged and understand the joy, liberation, and healing that comes from this beautiful Sacrament and why it is such a gift to us.
As we continue to prepare our hearts for the Lord throughout this Advent season it is an appropriate time to clear our hearts and souls of the things that keep us from fully receiving our Lord. It is an appropriate time for Reconciliation.
It was a time in my life that I remember well. There was a pull inside of me for something more and the awareness that I too was made for more than what I had settled for living. This aching within was present for quite some time and I often tried to neglect it's presence by continuing to commit myself to things that would only temporarily distract me from reality of the emptiness that was there. It never worked. Nothing that I then sought could paralyze or pacify this feeling.
I had been attempting to practice my faith more at this point, but I was still very divided. I was playing "hokey pokey" with the Church in some ways. I had my right foot in and then I took my right foot out and danced in the world a bit until I recognized that this divided dance would not, and could not lead me to any sustaining peace. Our Lord does not want only a part of us. He wants a unified dance "cheek to cheek" , or rather 'eye lash to eye lash' which is Reconciliation.
At the end of 2009 a friend of mine had been accepted to Queens university and was on her way to completing a graduate program there. I valued our friendship and more than ever her being far from Toronto made me see the journey to Kingston as one that allowed me to physically run from and remove myself from the noise and confusion that was present in my life at the time. It was a Saturday and around mid day my friend and I had arranged dinner plans for that night with some of her friends from school. Prior to dinner I asked if she knew where the closest Catholic Church was to where she was living and she directed me to one in the area that was unfortunately locked. Outside of the Church a lady told me that there was Mass taking place at a Catholic Church not too far from where we were.
My friend selflessly agreed to drive me to the Church.
The Mass was just ending and I was slightly disappointed because I wanted to go to Confession and felt as if I missed the opportunity. Our Lord truly does provide though. I walked toward the Sacristy and the priest was there with a kind face. He was getting ready to remove his vestments and I said "Father, I'm not from around here and was just wondering if you'd hear my confession?". I'm sure he was probably tired and wanting to eat and that Confession times were scheduled regularly at parish for a reason, but he saw and recognized my need for the Lord and put that first. He kindly agreed and directed me toward his confessional and told me that he would be there in a few moments.
This Confession was the second one I had following having never gone since my Confirmation. It was however the most open and in-depth baring of my soul. There were many tears and many emotions as I presented everything before our Lord. The priest was patient and helpful. He did not rush me, he did not judge, he showed me Jesus. The heaviness I had felt was becoming much lighter. I knew that I had a lot of spiritual work to do but at the same time I knew that through this Sacrament of Reconciliation I could slowly work toward holiness and a deeper relationship with our Lord. I could have the peace that I had longed for.
I did not walk away from the Confessional completely changed. This would take time and an honest commitment to living out my faith. It would take returning to the Confessional many times, not because of guilt, but because of the immensity of love that our Lord shows us there. Because there is nothing that can satisfy the heart and sustain us fully as our Lord can.
I often encounter people that are so 'afraid' of Confession. The confessional for many is a place of 'doom' and one that is 'laden with guilt'. It is this misconception that not only keeps one further away from the grace of our Lord, but also entrapped within the shame, guilt, and heaviness of sin. To become self aware and to have the clarity to see that we are in need of reconciliation is a grace. It is something that the Lord gifts us with so that we can identify our need for His healing, and begin a surrender to His desire to transform our hearts and free us from our self created prison. Reconciliation is not about self-loathing and self-hate, it is about self-awareness, surrender, healing transformation and our Lord's immeasurable merciful love. (CC)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
A Helpful link from the Archdiocese of Toronto: Frequently Asked Questions