Saturday, June 26, 2010

"to thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful"

I just returned from confession. It is always a little awkward to stand in line outside the confessional with others waiting for my turn. For several years I avoided going to confession in this manner. As a deacon, I know many priests and would just call, make an appointment, and go on the appointed day. I do not believe there is anything wrong with this in and of itself. However, I caught myself one time telling somebody that this was how I rolled when it comes to confessing my sins. In my mind I caught myself thinking that as a deacon it is not fitting for me to show up Saturday afternoon, wait in line with everyone, and go to confession when my turn came. Catching myself, I changed my practice.



The Coronation of the Virgin, by Carracci ca. 1595-1600

This afternoon, as I waited in line with 6 or 7 other people, I was struck by how close I felt to them, only two of whom I knew, or had met before. Of course, waiting in line for confession is not a social event, there is no talking, just a lot of silent praying. Above the confessional on the east side of The Cathedral of the Madeleine is a beautiful stained glass window of the Blessed Virgin being crowned Queen of Heaven. I found myself looking into her face and praying Memorares for specific people and intentions as I waited, all the time cognizant of being in the company of my fellow believers who are not afraid to acknowledge their need and to recognize that Christ meets their need, makes up for their inability, that He is the One who overcomes their weakness, and changes their hearts through His mercy and love, they look to Him to show them that the pursuit of selfish desires will never bring satisfaction and to acknowledge those times they let themselves be deceived. I could never come close to describing what it means to me to belong to such a hallowed company.

3 comments:

  1. This is beautiful to read, rich, inviting.

    I too, have confession on my mind and the desire to write about this sacrament that so many avoid.

    Like you, I have access to many priests and tend to end up arranging for confession to work out that way. Your post is a reminder of one of the main themes that I want to write about, that being the essential communal nature of confession. We must re-member the Body in wholeness and true unity, not by our own individual salvation.

    Thank you and God bless you always.

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  2. Deacon Scott -

    Thank you for sharing. There are so many different stories and experiences of Confession. So much food for a good book.

    I go to confession at a local Benedictine monastery. Doors open 2PM on Saturday. There is a small waiting room - at one end of the room, a small desk - other walls are lined with chairs. A few weeks ago I entered the room at 1:45PM. Half the seats were taken by nuns - all in full habit. No air conditioning in this room, the window is closed. (a preliminary penance). 2PM arrives. Everyone is waiting for Father to open the door and get things rolling. 2:15pm. No Father. 2:30pm. No Father. The nuns are laughing, except one. I believe she is the superior. She stands up and walks to the entrance door, opens it up - and rings the bell. Goes back and sits down. Nothing happens. Now this nun is looking at me - she asks "would you mind going outside and ringing the doorbell?" As an obedient Catholic, I answer " sure sister." I get up and go ring the bell. Now it's 2:45PM. The nun can not take it any more - she stands up and walks to the confession room door and BANGS! on the door. The other sisters are tearing up, turning red. The other folks who are waiting in the room are stunned. Finally Father opens the door, takes a good look at all of us - says nothing - shuts the door - and screams "I AM READY"! true story...

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  3. Brian:

    I love it. I have a couple more confession stories. Maybe I'll make this a Saturday feature for awhile. The point is GO! Your story reminds me that we have to be persistent, like the dear Sister in your story, who wasn't taking "No" for an answer. What a beautiful witness she is for desiring Christ.

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