Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stay Seated

"Mommy, why isn't he going up" is a phrase that no Catholic parent wants to hear, or have to explain, when they are walking with their family up to receive the Eucharist. To be honest, I am not even sure how I would truthfully explain that to my child (if God were to ever bestow that blessing upon me).

My crash course on this topic came one Sunday while I was still in RCIA,and could not yet take Communion. I noticed the wonderful Catholic woman I was seeing at the time, had stayed kneeling with me, when the others started down the isle. Taking for granted this was just a kind act of solidarity, I didn't even mention it until later that day. She explained that our little make out session from the night before, had lead to less than pure thoughts, and that she felt the need for confession before receiving the Eucharist again.

My reaction to this little revelation was three fold, with the first part being the shame and guilt that comes with the "full knowledge" that I lead my sister into sin (Matt 18:6, 1 Cor 8:12), as well as being in sin myself.

Secondly, her bold demonstration of love and respect for our Lord, increased the already growing love and respect that I had for her. Oh, how I admired her!

The last part of this trilogy of emotions, was my determination to always be sure I was (and while together, we were) worthy of receiving Christ in the Eucharist. An easy self-promise, as my first Holy Communion was months away.

In our short courtship the above incident was never repeated, and she was even present on the wonderful Spring night, when I was received into the church--and when I first received our Savior's body and blood.
Although this was an amazing night, the next few months of living out my new Catholic faith would come to be more than I was prepared for.

Having to suddenly start examining my conscience on a regular basis, seemed to make the little sins of my life suddenly a bit larger and overwhelming. Confusion also came from my misconception that confession was something to avoid, a shame filled dark secret to keep, literally, behind closed doors. My own lack of self confidence allowed in the whispers of the enemy "you'll never be good enough to be a Catholic".

Keeping this to myself, I would start a weekly ritual of running into my parish on Saturdays, equipped with that week's written list of sins. An act of contrition, absolution, penance, and than I could proudly go up to receive communion the next morning at Mass.

This went on for several months before I realized I was not as sorry that my sins offended God, as much as I was that they could prevent me from going up with the other parishioners. I realized I was more concerned with how I looked to the nameless faces of my church, than I was at how I looked before my Creator. I had been going to confession out of pride, not contrition, and truly not in repentance. Of all my sins, I think this would truly be my biggest--and hardest to fully repent from.

Realizing this sin, I stayed kneeling one Sunday morning (alone, the above relationship sadly did not last), and started praying for God to forgive me this, and lend me the grace to truly repent. After Mass, I cornered my Deacon, and asked if he could find a priest to hear my confession. Truly contrite, truly repenting, I confessed this dark sin of pride and disrespect for our Lord.....and I was forgiven!

That day, increased in me both a real love for confession (a blog is a brewing), and a deeper reverence for the Eucharist. I thank the Holy Spirit for showing me all these things.

A habit of praying for my brothers and sister who stayed in their pews, has also become a wonderful part of Mass for me. Seeing them with both sympathy and respect, and hoping that on the days I stay kneeling, they might say a prayer for the ol' monkster . . . as I hope you all do as well.

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