Friday, December 20, 2013

Our First Reconciliation

First off, apparently everyone was surprised that it was my wife and I's first reconciliation the other evening. Apparently, everyone including our now retired priest had though we had done it already. We were under the understanding that we needed to be closer to our annulments being finalized. It wasn't until we asked about it when it was time for two of our kids, that we found out that we can and should be partaking in this particular sacrament as well; and could

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.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Marriage -- A Fine Sacrement

Today's post is going to be about marriage. I like so many people are knee deep in Christmas. If just so happens that nearly halfway in the month of December I married my first love. It was a hard and difficult road for the two of us to find each other again. That said, I've never been happier. Thanks to the gift of her love I have four great pre-fab kids, as well as a beautiful little daughter who just hit the six month mark.

So what the heck does this have to do with my new-found Catholic faith? Nothing, and everything. Nothing in that currently we are both working on getting our annulments done through the Church. Before then we were both married outside the faith and based on the outcomes you can easily say it was less than happy or successful. So why does it matter? Marriage is a sacrament and thus an "institution" that needs be be taken seriously. For me, that's why I stuck in a marriage longer than I should have the first time around -- I took my promise very seriously even if the marriage was literally poison. Without going into specific details, there were lots of failures. Chiefly was taking God out of the equation and yet staying in the failing marriage BECAUSE of Him.

When I met up with my wife, it was about 25 years after some damn fool teenage boy dumped her for another girl. On Valentines Day. Two days before her birthday. And yes. Here soon, that too will be included in my first Reconciliation; one of the many things that I haven't forgiven myself for much less felt that God has either. At the time, I was separated, and living on my mother's living room floor. I was going back to church at a local Baptist church and everything was going as well as one could expect. It took an act God to leave my ex-wife, and it took another to meet much less talk to my current wife. However, once I did I knew. Thankfully, with a yes on Thanksgiving 4 years ago so did she.

I cannot begin to express how blessed I am. This is the one Sacrament that I, excuse the pun, "brought with me" and one that I hope very soon to get cleared up. It's likely at least partially because of this marriage that I explored and learned about the Catholic faith (my father-in-law passed and the funeral was Catholic) and expressed a desire to become Catholic, only to find that it was also the wish of my beloved wife as well. She was searching on her own, while I was listening to local Catholic radio.

There's a ton of blessings wrapped up with marriage. You get a partner that you can trust, that God gave you for a reason. You get support, you get a ton of things. The trick is to GIVE and that's the part that we all struggle with both in and out of marriage. I thank the Lord for my second chance to be with my soulmate. I just wish I had listened to Him and my heart in the first place, rather than being a scared kid who happened to have hit the jackpot early.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis named Time's Magazine Person of the Year!

Time magazine names Pope Francis person of the year!

A great choice for all the reasons mentioned.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Sickness of Sin

Children are a blessing and I've learned a great deal about how God sees me (one of the reasons I look at marriage much differently now). I don't believe that I really understood until my precious daughter was born. Just this week, she came down with a cold. I couldn't help but think that God must feel similar to the way that I feel with my sick daughter. Except I think He doesn't suffer so much from the hopeless factor.

Likely the theologians will think me way off base, and others borderline blasphemy. But is it possible that the Lord feels this bit of helpless sadness? You give humans the precious gift of free-will and we constantly use it poorly. Making us sick with sin. Like a helpless parent, God watches as us, his children, continue to wallow. Sure some of us stray off the path but we don't ever forget the map so to speak. We pick ourselves up, turn around and try again.

I find myself looking at this precious child and instantly want to keep her in a plastic bubble. I don't know that I could have ever allowed for free-will. That's a love I don't understand. I'm a bit of a control freak. You can add this to the list of things that I want to understand when I come into heaven. That and the whole dinosaur thing.

So we get sick with sin. In my old faith tradition, I need only ask for forgiveness in the comfort of my closet and it was given. Now for many this works. For me it always seemed to be lacking. Especially in those circumstances when I couldn't begin to forgive myself. In those instances, and I still have them today, that lingering guilt hangs. That's one of the things I'm looking forward to with my first reconciliation -- that forgiveness and accountability.

I realize that I could take that sacrament, but I'm waiting on the results of my annulment. Still, I'm surprising looking forward to the process. I have a lot of sin sicknesses that I'm looking to start treatment for so to speak.  There are many Catechumen that won't partake in the sacrament. That seems really weird to me. Sure there is the public pronouncement but that seemed to me like taking a home-brew fix for something that only takes a simple shot to fix. Perhaps I'll feel different afterwards but I doubt it.

So if you have a sin sickness, seek God and repent! Truly offer it up to God. He's given us the sacrament of reconciliation as a tool to help heal ourselves. Stop, drop, pray. Then get yourself to confession and hold your healing accountable.