The first week of Advent draws to an end, and with hopeful hearts we move towards peace. Today I went to the sacrament of Reconciliation. We have a lovely visiting Jesuit from Ireland and in some ways I wished that we were not so rushed but I was very aware of the fact that he was saying mass right after. As I confessed my sin, I had a deep desire to listen more and to wrestle a bit with my struggle.
I am preparing a talk to give to retreatants who will be wrapping up Week One of the 19th Annotation of the Exercises and it has given me pause to think about my own personal sin. I reflect upon my health issues–still undetermined at this point–and I know I do not always treat this temple well. I run it ragged. I have stuffed it with delicious Lindt chocolates lately and am not feeling well enough to exercise so have gained some weight. It has not slept well recent nights. The Energizer bunny is fizzling out and needs a nap.
In my presentation I am going to mention a dear Franciscan priest who was the confessor for a friend of mine as well as a former partner. Decades ago, my friend called me up and shared her frustration about something that was going on in her life. Make no mistake about it, she was sinning greatly. I had heard the stories before and noted the pattern in her life. She agreed and decided to go to confession. She phoned me later that same evening again, this time in tears because the priest had not absolved her of her sin. I was stunned. At the time I did not know that was even possible. She said he had recommended that she return when she was truly repentant and ready to change her behaviour. I made a mental note of the priest’s name and made a promise to myself to never go to him.
A few years later, I was in a relationship with a man who was struggling with some demons of his own. En route to my place one night he said he was going to swing by the monastery for the sacrament of reconciliation. When he arrived I asked how he was and he told me that the priest had not absolved him from his sins. I had a flashback. Yes, it was the same Franciscan. This time though I was ready to take on the sinful patterns of my own life. I began to see this holy man as my confessor and it changed me. We are given a great gift in the sacraments and I have matured enough to see that.
I grew to understand God’s incredible mercy and love that is extended when we truly look at and confess our sin. Who else can love us so constantly and consistently? I do have a hopeful heart as we transition to Week Two of Advent. How about you?