Snow & Reconciliation

Do you remember, way back when, if you turned on the television and were on a channel that didn’t come in clearly or didn’t come in at all, people called that fuzzy picture and nasty sound “snow”?  That’s how the last couple of days have felt.  Like a tv with poor reception.

I’ve been running like crazy and I’m as tired as can be.  Don’t worry, I’m also healthy as a horse and no, there won’t be anymore little ones birthed by this momma, so that’s not it either.  I’m not sure if it’s just the seasonal run around or what, but it certainly had me wondering what to do.  So last night I went to my parish’s reconcilliation service.  It’s a good thing to do if you’re Catholic and you’d like to really prepare your heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas.  I’ve also come to realize that it’s also pretty good for chasing away that blah, tired feeling.

Now, for my non-Catholic readers, I realize that confessing your sins to a priest would be uncomfortable for you.  I respect that.  Please respect that my beliefs are different from yours.  That doesn’t make confessing my sins to a priest comfortable, simply necessary from my viewpoint.   I don’t feel a need to be comfortable showing someone else my not so nice side.  I feel that we gain a measure of accountability for our actions when we confess to someone else what we’ve done.  For that reason, and because I believe that our Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope have been given their calling to forgive sins directly from Jesus Christ (and therefore from God), these are the reasons I choose to confess my sins to a priest.

 And there is more to the sacrament of Reconciliation than the confession part anyway.  There is also the penance part.  While I’m not going to share what I confessed, I am going to share with you the penance I received, partly because it was a particularly poignant penance and partly to dispel any myths my non-Catholic readers have that the penances are harsh/painful/undoable/etc.

The penance I received was to list in my mind three blessings that I have been given by God and then to say a prayer of praise to God for those blessings. 

Yes that’s it, the whole enchilada. 

See, not harsh or painful at all.  Why?  Because the purpose and focus of the sacrament is reconciliation, ie to bring ourselves closer to God. 

So, why was this a poignant penance?  Because once you start listing your blessings, it’s mighty hard to stop at just three.  And realizing all of the good things that God has given me also brought home to me the ingratitude I had shown to God by my particular sins.  Hopefully no one there thought my weeping after confession was due to a harsh penance.  A woman I haven’t met made small talk about the weather as we were leaving (so I think the tears might have been noticed).  Really though, it was very good for me to focus on the good and that focus will be helpful in my attempts to stay away from sin. 

So I pray my Act of Contrition: 

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.  In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.  I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.  Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  In His name, my God, have mercy.

May the peace of reconciliation be yours too this Christmas season.  And may you come to recognize all that God has blessed you with as well.  Give thanks and praise for those blessings for they truly number as the stars.  And thanks Fr Lou for that gift of Reconciliation.

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