Monday, March 10, 2008

When It Don't Come Easy

First off, not looking for accolades or anything, but I needed to write this down. Tonight I went to confession (I was confirmed prior to that so I've only one experience.) I've always just felt like I never needed it. I went to Mass most of my life with my parents when I was a kid, till I went to Catholic school, then we stopped going as a family as it was like I was getting my fill through school. I felt like I had a good education in Catholic school, I had some great Christian Brothers as teachers, a former religious sister and other great lay teachers, but I also think I missed out a lot because I'd been confirmed so young that my friends were learning stuff in their confirmation classes that we didn't necessarily learn in religion classes. When I went off to college I just stopped practicing my faith. (I actually would have fit into that Pew study pretty well.) I never went to any other church-- I never felt a desire or a longing to be another religion-- I think I always knew that the only church for me was the Catholic Church, but I wasn't ready to come back. I wasn't looking for God then. I suspect He was always there, but I wasn't listening or ready to hear Him. I never denied His existence. I never questioned that He was real, I just didn't really feel like I needed him or wanted to make the effort to have Him be in my life. Not sure how else to explain it really.

Anyway... so, I went to Mass for Easter with my mom last year, b/c she'd been going pretty regularly.Then I started writing a new novel. It was supposed to be a girl gets back at guy for breaking her heart (which was what I was going through at the time) kind of story and it was supposed to be light, fluffy and not at all anything deep or spiritual, which is what I ended up getting. I think that's also helped me on my journey back and because I worked through a lot of this stuff in my story. I also started doing some research about the Church, the sacraments and the teachings, etc. Things I didn't know or remember from my younger days.

However, what I think really brought me back was an annual novena to Our Lady: La Conquistadora . The faith of the people around here amazed me. Something clicked in me and for the first time I understood there was more to my history and heritage than I realized. The devotion and the spirituality impressed me and opened my eyes to my ties to the faith. I knew I could no longer just profess to be a cultural Catholic anymore. After that week, filled with beautiful, joyful Masses, I was back attending Mass every Sunday, feeling like I was part of something again. I still had yet to come all the way home.

Tonight, I felt compelled to do it. I've talked myself out of seeking the sacrament of reconciliation for a long time. But I needed to confess. It was awkward, weird and yet good. There were was short reconciliation service with several priests from the community to hear confessions after. Surprisingly, I knew most of them. I ended up going to our pastor, only because lately he's said a few things in his homilies that struck a chord with me and tonight during his homily, he said something that really hit me, so I decided that I'd make my first confession back to him. There was a woman ahead me doing it for the first time in a long time too so we offered each other moral support. Anyway, as I said it went ok. Like all things, I knew what I wanted to say and confess beforehand, I'd been thinking about it all day. My conscience was ready but the words didn't come out the way I wanted them to. I know I didn't use "proper" form and I didn't say the "Act of Contrition", but I muddled through it. I think he understood. I think that it's a sacrament that I will utilize again more often than every 30 years or so.

One aspect to the penance was to think about and reflect on certain things I confessed in prayer. That's probably the hardest part of it all. One of the things I've tried to work on during this Lenten Season is how to pray. There is still more I'd like to reflect on and think about, and I also think I'd like to talk to him more about other things. Instead of trying to try to talk to him after Mass on Sunday, which I think is never a good time to say anything but hello, I was thinking of sending an email with a few thoughts, but mostly to find a time when we might be able to talk about other things that I've wanted to talk about. Not sure though.

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