On March 21 over at “Reconciled to You,” Allison Gingras is hosting a Lenten blog hop called “How do you really feel about confession?”
As I get ready for Easter, I think back to the first time I ever went to confession, back in 1995 just before my confirmation at Holy Family Parish in South Pasadena, California (pictured here). I was such a difficult candidate my first sponsor actually quit — and the DRE took me under her wing. I will always be grateful to Dawn Ponnet for welcoming me into the family, and to the silvery-haired, golden-tongued Irish priest and pastor emeritus Monsignor Clem Connelly, who invited me out for lunch and, over spring rolls, assured me, “Ah, Heidi, you are a gift to us.” I still tear up when I think about it.
Truth be told, I did not feel like such a gift. My decision to become Catholic had alienated friends and estranged my family. I was in a toxic relationship from which I could not readily extricate myself. And, having recently graduated from college and on my own, I was just this side of homelessness. For many reasons, I was at an all-time low point.
And so, as the Vigil neared and Dawn talked with us about making our first confession, I knew it was a good idea. I also had no idea where to begin when I found myself face-to-face with a youthful Filipino priest who had recently joined the parish. I found myself rambling about what a horrible person I was, and he stopped me.
“You are not a horrible person. You are a GOOD person. You are God’s beloved daughter.”
I argued. With the priest. In the confessional. “NO! I’m NOT good!” And I started again, listing all my many faults and failings.
He shook his head and held up his hand. “No. I tell you, you are full of goodness. That is how God sees you. He wants to take these things from you. Will you give them to him?”
Of course I was a blubbery mess by this time. Utterly defeated. If he knew the worst of it, and declared that God wanted me anyway … who was I to argue?
Exhausted, I left the priest’s office and made my way to the church, where I knelt down in my favorite spot in front of the mural of the death of St. Joseph. It was the Holy Family at their most human, most vulnerable, most exposed to the realities of human existence. I knew God was offering me a fresh start. Both then and now, I am eternally grateful.
Are you in need of a fresh start? If you are Catholic, why not begin your journey toward wholeness and freedom with the sacrament of reconciliation? Don’t worry about how long it’s been, or what to say. God is ready to welcome you home. For more information about reconciliation (making confession) here is a one-page pdf you can print out and bring with you. Go with God!