DS: The Sacrament of Reconciliation is probably my favorite Sacrament after the Holy Eucharist. From my first to my very recent, there are some confessions that I can never forget.
I recall one Saturday afternoon. The temperature outside was hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I walked into Santa Cruz Catholic Church. The conditioned air hit me right in my perspiring face. I dipped my hand into the cool holy water and made the Sign of the Cross. Genuflecting towards the Tabernacle, I looked around at the confession lines. I had to make a decision. Do I go with Fr. Deane or with the visiting priest? The visiting priest wouldn't know me. Fr. Deane is a good friend. Sometimes its an advantage to confess to a priest who doesn't have any clue who you are. But most of the time, its good to confess with one who is familiar with you. I decided on the shortest line. So, into Fr. Deane's line I went.
I started praying the Rosary, asking Our Lady to help me to have a good confession and to remember all my sins. With each moment, my nervousness kicked into high gear. In between Mysteries, I went through an examination of conscience. My concentration was only broken by the sound of the confessional door opening and shutting.
I found myself timing each individual's confession. "Okay, mister took a whole 15 mins. sheesh." Then, I would stop myself and think, "should I confess that I'm impatient in line for confession?!"
Finally, my time had come. I was weak in the knees as I walked into the confessional and knelt down.
"In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Bless me, Father for I have sinned...it has been ____________ since my last confession. These are my sins." I slowly spoke of my trangressions, my failures, my weakness---my sins, until I ended with, "and for all the sins I may be forgetting, that is all."
There was a period of silence. Father cleared his throat. In his thick Irish brogue, and in a manner that only Fr. Deane could pull off, he said, "For penance, you need a good kick in the 'arse!"
Tonite at Ash Wednesday Mass, Father reminded us that Jesus isn't the God who is ready to strike us down for our faults. We may deserve that good swift kick in the arse, but despite our transgressions, despite our weakness, the Lord loves us to the point of scandal. This doesn't mean we stay in our sorry state, but instead, we need to take advantage of His Love, His Grace and His Mercy to help us overcome our sins. Our Lenten journeys should take us there, to the foot of His Cross, to receive the ultimate gift of His Salvation.