Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Light is On

"I know you understand it all
So why don't I get back on my feet again"
Understand - Jeremy Camp

The above lyric is from one of my favorite Jeremy Camp tunes, and until I became Catholic I couldn't answer his musical question either.

Why don't we just get up when we fall ?
Why don't we feel forgiven when we scream out "I'm sorry Lord!"?
Why do our secret sins seem to haunt us?

The answer came to me, along with a peace I had never known, after my first act of Confession, three days before the Church welcomed me in by the name "Rose of Lima"(that's another story).

My first confession, my life confession, was a "face to face" with the Priest sitting directly in front of me. I read my confession from a long list I had compiled - a list so terribly hard to write (and than speak), that the ink had mixed with tears on almost every line. The wonderful people (family and friends) I had hurt, the women I had used, the lies I had said with my lips and my body, the hate and anger for others (as well as myself), the words "I don't love you" to be the last I ever said to my mother before her Alzheimers (when she would no longer know who I was), the resentment I had for a father who I now understood did the best he knew how, etc....

Before the devoted servant of Christ absolved me of my sins, he reminded me how much God loves me, and how much joy it fills Him to hear a truly repentant "I'm sorry". Maybe it was from all the fluid I lost through my eye sockets, but I felt 10 pounds lighter as I left the Priest to go do my penance in the chapel.

When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you've committed
.... the priest will make atonement for your sin
Leviticus 5:5

Old Testament writing outlining confession to a Priest, who sacrifices a lamb as atonement for sins.The below was said by the very Lamb that God would sacrifice as atonement for ALL sin, as He gave Peter (and the Church) authority and power to forgive sins.

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:18

But WWMM, I can't I just confess to a friend or my spouse?how's about my shrink?

Yes, and no. Of course having a partner when fighting off temptations is important, but think of the burden your sin is to you, and than think of giving to another (who already has their own) to help you carry. The Priest has been given supernatural graces that your friend doesn't. Also, often when we ask friends to pray for us, life gets in the way, and they forget. For the priest, praying for you is his life!

Yes, yes, you can, and should tell your shrink everything, but it stops at just the telling. The Priest has a God given power to absolve you of the sins you confess, not just listen to them.

WWMM, I've done some crazy stuff in my life, like that time at the farm with the goat, and...

Wooooo, I ain't a Priest,but I can assure you that most have heard just about everything, even your strange farm story (although along with absolution, they might recommend counseling). Another of the wonderful graces God seems to give His priests is forgetfulness, as most say that what they hear is generally erased from their minds once they have prayed for you.

So as I am no theologian, I can only tell you how much of of blessing it is to me to be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) - to know that with a contrite heart I can confess anything- to have complete confidence that my sins are forgiven - to have Jesus himself (speaking through the priest) say "I forgive you" - to also receive council on how to fight my temptations. All I can say is that I love confession, and it makes my heart ache to know that my non-Catholic friends and family might never experience this beautiful, and life giving, Sacrament that our Lord himself established. For my Catholic friends who are not partaking of this joyous gift Christ has given us, all I can say is "God loves you sooooo very much, and longs for you to return to him completely".

The Archdiocese of Washington has started a program, "The Light is On for You", to help Catholics understand and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During Lent most parishes will have increased hours of confession, or you can always go to the Shrine (like me), as they offer the Sacrament morning til evening Mass.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Please remember this verse, and remember that along with it comes forgiveness for All, even a self confessed butt-head like your favorite monkster.
But I have found in you
A heart that bleeds forgiveness
Take You Back - Jeremy Camp

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