For many years I felt no compunction to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation, having only been once – on the day of my Confirmation with no formal preparation. As I began to rediscover my connection to the faith, this missing Sacrament began to pull at my heart. At first, God’s gentle tug was easily ignored. But as the years wore on, I learned more about the beauty and grace offered, the reasons why it was a Sacrament of healing and felt God’s pull getting stronger.
My turning point began while helping my daughter in her own preparation to receive the Sacrament for the first time. We read John 20:19-23 together, where Jesus bestowed the gift to forgive sins on the disciples. We discussed how our sins are forgiven, and we “experience healing and wholeness and the tenderness of God’s divine mercy in the Sacrament.” In Reconciliation, we humble ourselves before God, as he asks us to do. The Sacrament imparts divine grace through the real presence of our Lord.
Watching my daughter walk out of the confessional, I could see her radiate God’s love and embrace a pure faith in Jesus. Fr. John had given her a coin with a prayer inscription to always remember God’s mercy, “Jesus, I Trust in You.” I found myself wanting that radiance and mercy for myself, but my pride and fear stood in the way.
For the next year, everywhere I turned I heard about the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Fr. Roderick from SQPN, Greg and Jennifer of The Catholics Next Door, author Patrick Madrid, author and speaker Sister Briege McKenna, and most profoundly, from my own parish priest Fr. John at Mass. Fr. John consistently spoke on the importance and healing offered to us by Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We were reminded that confessing our sins was only part of it; what we truly needed was the forgiveness, healing and reconciliation Christ offers to us. I knew he and the others were right.
The idea of walking into the confessional and saying, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been 21 years since my first and only confession” filled me with trepidation. I was ashamed it had been so long. How can I aspire to be a good Catholic and refuse a Sacrament?
Finally, one day during Lent that year I made up my mind that I was going. I grabbed several books on the Sacrament I had been reading, including A Pocket Guide to Confession, before I left the house and ran my errands. I did not speak about it all day for fear I would once again rationalize myself out of going. With my kids in tow, we arrived at the parish to a line outside the confessional. After settling my kids in the foyer with lots of library books, I waited and silently prayed for guidance.
Simply put, my fear, trepidation and shame were unwarranted. After hearing the words of absolution and performing my penance, I felt a huge emotional release. I had let myself get in the way of my relationship with God. Finally, I was able to hear Him more clearly without the encumbrance of sin. Over the following days and weeks a new spiritual calmness washed over me as I was cleansed and healed by the Sacrament.
Sharing my 21-year absence in receiving God’s healing grace is difficult for me, but I know I am not alone in my avoidance of this Sacrament. If you are like me and have been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, please know that your desire to seek the way back to the healing power offered to us by Jesus is in my prayers.
Copyright 2012 Lisa Jones