Saturday, June 16, 2012
Ramblings about Confession, Confessionals and Kneelers
Receiving the Eucharist is awesome and grace-giving and yet without regular confession I find myself increasingly off balance, less and less the person that I want to be.
Before we had kids, getting to confession was easy. I could jump in the car and be at confession at whatever time it was that week, and if there was no one there because I'd missed some announcement in the bulletin, it wasn't that big of a deal because I could just as easily go the next week. Throwing babies and toddlers into the mix, complicated things. Suddenly movement of any sort, wasn't exactly easy. Paul was gone on Saturday's for school in those days, and so I would ask Nani to watch Sadie and haul Mae into town with me, hoping that confession would be going on.
The obvious answer to the problem was, of course, to schedule a meeting at another time, but even that was met with difficulties for various reasons, as was the solution of coming before Mass and seeing if anyone had time to hear a quick confession, because of the general annoyance that that suggestion was met with.
When I discovered that confession was held before Mass at the chapel we attend during the school year, I was joyous. That I could do. I could get the whole family out the door, at least when we needed the sacrament, by 7:40, in time to slip into the confessional before the 8 am Mass.
Yet, these past two months have still been a challenge. The last time I went to confession was on April 8th.... 60 days ago. Shortly after that confession I was put on bed rest. Bed rest ended and we finished finals, organizing, and moving cross country in a flurry of non-stop movement.
So I longed for the sacrament, but didn't actually make it. After all it wasn't as if I had a mortal sort of need to go. It was more like the venial piling on top of the venial... tiny weights adding up one after another. And since those venial sins are wiped away by the Eucharist it wasn't as if they carried over. But still I felt the weight and the pull, and the simultaneous desire to stay away that always lets me know that I really, really need to go track down the nearest priest and beg him to hear my confession.
This morning I prayed that somehow, today, there would be a priest to hear my confession. Our current parish is in transition, with one priest leaving for a new station and another arriving, so I wasn't sure confession would be heard at all. As we headed west after shopping I suggested to Paul that we stop by the parish office in The City and see if anyone was there. Around half an hour later I was finishing up my confession, feeling a heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, as well as a resolve to not let 60 days pass again between confessions. I am refreshed.
But I have to say... I really miss confessionals when I'm away from parishes that still have them. I'm certain there are many people who prefer the face to face confession (okay, I at least imagine there must be, otherwise why the switch? Although I have a hard time imagining wanting to look someone in the eye while confessing your deepest, darkest secrets...), but I am most certainly not one of them.
I find myself increasingly aware of our composite existence as I seek out God, and how as composite creatures, made of both a body and a soul, the physical as well as the spiritual is an important aspect of my journey towards God. There is an understanding of this in Catholicism that I love, the acknowledgement that our bodies and what we do with them matter very much. We are not simply a body or a soul. We are a body and a soul.
I wouldn't mind seeing a resurgence of confessionals with screens and kneelers, for they help me remember where I am and who I am addressing when I confess my sins. After all, a little extra reverence when addressing our creator and expressing sorrow for our sins, couldn't hurt!