“How about right now?”
The priest’s suggestion caught me off guard.
It was early in the morning, and I had just arrived at a conference where I would be speaking. My mind was filled with many distractions about my talk, about things going on at home, and about work obligations and commitments.
When I saw the priest upon entering, however, I was inspired to ask if he could hear my confession later that day. I knew it had been too long since my last confession, and I also knew that, especially when life is busy, we sometimes need to seize opportunities whenever and however they present themselves.
I thought asking for a confession appointment later in the day was bold and brave enough, but here was something even braver: right now.
Father was smiling at me, awaiting my response.
“Uhh, okay,” I stammered, “I’ll just need a minute.”
He gestured toward some chairs in the corner. “I’ll meet you right over there.”
I sat in one of the chairs and struggled to focus my mind. So much busy-ness. So many distractions. So much to do and so many things to worry about.
I managed to make it through my confession, and at the end, when the priest asked me to recite an Act of Contrition, I began the familiar prayer I have known since I was a little girl.
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee …”
I was still so distracted, though, that at one point in the prayer, my mind went completely blank.
“I firmly resolve … ” I prayed, and I stopped. I could not remember the next line.
“I firmly resolve … ” I tried again, but NOTHING.
After a pause, the priest prompted me, “With the help of Thy grace … ”
Of course! With the help of Thy grace! I completed the prayer.
Afterward, however, as I reflected on my stress-induced lapse of memory, I recognized something significant in the words I had forgotten.
“With the help of Thy grace.”
I do all things with the help of His grace, but in the midst of busy-ness, worry, and distraction, I can forget that. Instead of relying on God’s grace, I believe lies. I believe that I am in control, that I can do all the things, and that everything and everyone is counting on me and me alone.
But without Jesus, though, the real Jesus I met in confession that day, I am powerless. Every good thing I might ever accomplish comes from Him and through Him. He is the source of all that I need, and I can do nothing without the help of His grace.
I know these truths in my head, but I don’t always let them seep into my heart. I forget to rely on the help of His grace. I let myself fall into busy-ness instead. I rely on myself and fill my life with activity and distraction as I worry about my family, friends, work, money, and health.
I am grateful for that priest’s prompting to remember: With the help of Thy grace.
Give me that grace, Lord. Give me the grace to do what you will, but more importantly, give me grace to remember, even on my busiest days, that you are the source of all that I need. Amen.
Copyright 2018 Danielle Bean