I'm getting ahead of myself. Last evening was the first reconciliation for our 15 year old son, and 10 year old daughter. Since the entire family is new-verts some of my kids have some catching up to do; just like us parents. The kids had their rocks and were nervous but ready. Thankfully, for my wife and I, our priest who was still helping with our annulments (now retired from the parish) was one of the priests hearing confessions. So we stood up in line and were likely just as nervous as the kids.
I'm sure I'm not describing anything that any cradle Catholic hasn't already experienced. Sadly, I had anticipated the huge long lines and extremely busy priests trying frantically to hear all the pains of the parish. It seemed to fall short. I'm not saying the priests were not doing their diligence, on the contrary they were there in droves. No, it was the "us" -- the sinners that seemed to fail. There were not nearly the number of parishioners I expected. Nor, was there anyone beyond the staff that I even recognized.
We have a medium sized parish. Reconciliation takes place every Saturday about an hour before mass. Sadly, the room is rarely occupied. Thus my disappointment at the mass confession last night when I thought I'd see people in droves and be like right out of a movie. I had really anticipated many many more participants. Perhaps it was just me and my background in another faith tradition. The way I see it, here is fantastic sacrament that seems more like medicine than anything remotely religious and the lines aren't out the door. My whole life there were things that God may have forgiven of me but I couldn't. I got to lay those bare last night and be forgiven; it was really powerful. Why wouldn't a Catholic want to get rid of this burden? Is it because it's personal? It should be. Painful? All illnesses are, even with medicine. I just didn't get it and walked away from the evening concerned for my fellows more than being anxious or even embarrassed.
For me and my family, it was a joy to partake and honestly, I'm still in a haze. It was so easy and didn't seem alien, scary nor unnatural. On the contrary, it seemed to be just about perfect. We all had a profound sense of release. I'd always been taught that God can forgive us if we ask -- He is that powerful and filled with grace. That said, I'd been carrying around a lot of sin-baggage. It was a huge relief to know that even if I'd struggled to forgive myself, that He had. In my previous faith tradition, I'd always been taught that a Pastor/Minister was always there to help. I honestly don't see any difference except it seems more "natural" to have the forgiveness actually be a sacrament; a process rather than simply a spot on someone's calendar. To me the event needs to be holy.
Bless me for I have sinned but I feel a world lighter since my first reconciliation. Thank you for that holy sacrament. Amen.