I am kind of ashamed as I write this, but I can't remember the last time I went to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. My husband, bless his beautiful God-loving heart, tries to go as often as he can. He even has a Spiritual Director who hears his confession by appointment. My dear husband makes time for Confession because he knows how important it is to him, and leaves feeling his heavy burdens have been lifted. Every time he comes back home after being washed clean, he is a different man, a happier man, a man filled with grace. I want to hold him closer and try to get some of that grace by osmosis.
And then there's me. I'm sure I've gone since, but the last time I know for sure I went for confession was when I was in Rome for a month. That was in November 2004. I'm sure I went once or twice in 2005-2006 (which was when I was in the Franciscans and then when I got married). I've also attended general absolution. Before that trip I had a close friend who was a priest who would hear my confession, with whom I felt so comfortable sharing all the darkness in me. He took me seriously, talked things out, and gave me penance that challenged me and helped me grow stronger against my sins. Then he moved away. I'd had some good experiences with other confessors, but nothing really clicked. I was relying too much on their ability (or lack thereof) to talk things out, and not enough on the fact that through them Christ was reaching out His hand to take away my sins and relieve my burdens.
I grew up in the days when private reconciliation was very uncommon. My parish ran frequent third rite Reconciliation services where we'd all be communally cleansed. My father was never big on Confession from what I could tell (or if he was, he didn't share it with me) and my mother was a recent convert and hadn't been able to make the leap about this Sacrament. The year of catechism that was supposed to have First Reconciliation, my parents didn't send me. I had my First Reconciliation in High School after I'd had my conversion, and was overwhelmed and puzzled by the experience. Since then I've always struggled to force myself to seek it out. I was so lucky to meet a priest who was able to gently teach me the value of the Sacrament, and also to walk me through the process. He helped me realize that this was a Sacrament, something I needed, something given to me as a gift to heal my heart, cleanse my spirit, and help me grow in strength of resolve. Whether or not it's delivered the way "I like it" (whatever that means), the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a conduit of grace and mercy.
Even knowing that Reconciliation itself is a grace and not a burden, I've still managed not to seek it out for far too many years. It's not like I haven't needed it. I try always to be a really positive person and to live my faith inside and out, I am by no means perfect. I am not a perfect friend, wife, mother, daughter, or Christian. Sometimes I'm downright bad at all of those things. For far too long I've been using motherhood as an excuse not to force myself out the door. I'm still plagued by nervousness and fear of Confession. God knows my sin, and yet I am afraid I'm going to go into the Confessional and God will shake His head at me. Sounds silly. I know.
So this Lent, I'm forcing myself out the door. I'm going to answer the dulled whisper of my heart calling me to reconcile myself to God. I want to say I'm sorry to Jesus for the the scourge of my sins, the nails of my faults, and run back into God's arms crying mercy. On Easter, I will be able to remember that the Cross is the happy fault that redeems me, not an endless sacrifice I won't accept. Pour on the mercy, Lord. Fill me with Your Grace. Help me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation to draw closer to Your Cross and to go forth and sin no more.