Something Pope Francis said this week really reached my heart in a spot that I had quite nearly abandoned.
As a convert to Catholicism, one of the teachings of the church that was most difficult for me to embrace was the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a.k.a. “confession.” God already knew my sins. He saw them everyday. Someone please tell me why I needed to go to the priest to rehash all the terrible, no good. Fast forward 17 years and I see the beauty of the sacrament.
You see, I found myself in the confessional booth on a not-so-regular schedule (I’m a bit ashamed to admit that, but in the spirit of spilling the beans, you get honest Kathryn today). And, every time I was there, I felt like I should just hit the record/play/repeat button. I was confessing the same stuff and feeling stuck. Feeling inadequate. Feeling apathetic. Mostly, I felt like a failure.
I mean, I can plan birthday parties, organize the house, take awesome parenting classes and share the best of my “how do you do its”, yet real reconciliation with God alluded me. Just when I would conquer one thing, I would wake up the next morning to see just how much of a failure I was the day before. I was focusing on my debits, not my credits. And then Pope Francis said this:
“The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us.”
That did it. This sweet, sweet Argentine Jesuit Pope finally reached my tired heart.
Our parish hosted a penance service last night and my oldest and I attended together. As providence would have it, the priest that did my marriage prep was there to hear confessions. Will and I waited two hours to see him, but to me, it only seemed like it was a few minutes. Will and I spent that time listening to the readings, taking in the beautiful homily and sharing a few laughs in the confessional line.
My time in the confessional last night was different. I felt relieved. Honored. Beloved, even. As the gentle priest who listened and counseled me said, “It is a great thing that you have brought your sins to God. That takes courage.”
For the first time in all my 17 years of being Catholic, I truly felt the graces of confession. I felt like I’ve been stumbling in there, head down, shoulders hunched and heart ashamed for too long. Today I feel excited and ready for Holy Week. Truly ready. Easter is nearly upon us. If you’ve felt the same way. If you find yourself wondering, “Why do I even try?” as Fr. Danny mentioned last night in his homily, I urge you to get yourself to church. To ask for God’s forgiveness and spend some time in quiet prayer.
May Pope Francis’ words ring true for you and may Easter bring the healing, the hope and the love Christ pours out on your behalf.