Communicating with God

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last week was very challenging. On Wednesday, I got into some sin that affected the remainder of my week.

I don’t know about you, but there are certain sins that, when I let my guard down and give in to, plunge me into the pit of despair. Unable to claw my way out, I start sinking deeper within the cold, muddy pit.

I know that God forgives me; I ask his forgiveness and (try to) repent. However, I find myself returning again and again to that filthy pit.

This is why I love the sacrament of reconciliation (commonly referred to as confession). With the power given to the priest by Christ (“Whatever you bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Matthew 18:18]), it’s as if I’m confessing my sins directly to Jesus who is sitting near me. What a powerful, electrifying experience to actually hear the words of forgiveness.

This past Saturday, I went to confession at my parish. I prayed fervently beforehand that the Holy Spirit would help me to pray the Act of Contrition from my heart, and that the Holy Spirit would fill me.

There is nothing like praying inside the church: various individuals kneeling reverently before the life-sized crucifix and the tabernacle beside it that holds the Holy Eucharist, the true body and blood of Christ present before us.

After exiting the reconciliation room (“the confessional”), I always locate a pew in front of the altar, kneel, and immediately bow my head, reflect on my sin, and recite the prayers of penance.

However, instead of bowing my head, I knelt with my hands clasped in front of me, and my eyes were instantly transfixed on the body of Christ that hung on the cross. What’s going on? I was unable to move. It was one of those moments when The Lord speaks before I do.

At that moment, my mind was profoundly connected to God’s, and our conversation began:

Lord, since Wednesday, I…

Forget it. It’s in the past now.

Dear God, thank you for forgiving me…

You’re already forgiven. It’s time to move on.

The dialogue was over, but God wasn’t quite finished.

As I continued to gaze upon the crucifix, I had a vision of two long paths running parallel and almost touching. The left path was my life: I saw myself going through life working, spending time with family, and so forth. On the right path, rays of light that resembled water continually shone down the path and out of sight. I saw myself occasionally taking a step onto the right path, the rays of light/water washing over me like a horizontal shower. After a brief moment, I would step back onto the left path and continue my daily life.

The right path was God’s forgiveness. The Lord was showing me that Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago, and His saving grace always exists and is close by; all I must do is take the step, wash myself in it, and carry on.

At last I felt that God was finished communicating with me, and it was time for my penance. I prayed one “Our Father” and ten “Hail Marys.” These aren’t just rote actions that we go through because the priest says we have to; the prayers help us to get our focus on God. The prayers came alive like never before, each word imprinted on my soul.

I have listed the two prayers here:

Our Father, Who art in heaven,

hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace,The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners now

and at the hour of our death. Amen.

~t

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About Topaz

I'm a college teacher, writer, and faithful Catholic. I do my best to juggle all of these while dealing with my mental illness -- a constant thorn in my flesh. View all posts by Topaz

9 responses to “Communicating with God

  • Jolene

    Temptation is a big one….we are human, we are not perfect. Yet, I believe…..now this is my opinion regarding reconciliation and “some” Catholics (not speaking of you at all) , I believe some use reconciliation as a form to continue their bad behavior, kind of like a turnstile in an amusement park.

    Case in point : my ex-husband (#1) his famous line is “God forgave me, I went to confession” it was like his get out of jail free card or something. Of course I got on my soap box and told him just because you asked forgiveness doesn’t mean you can go out and cheat on your wife the following weekend. You repent…you learn ….. “You think God doesn’t know your hidden agenda?” I would often say. He’s the one that teaching RCIA with his wife…..go figure. Those two shouldn’t be anywhere near those that want to learn about our faith.

    I do believe that if one is truly remorseful and truly repents for sinning then God will forgive…..but I know there is a verse in the Bible that also states something on the lines that he doesn’t forgive those that continue to make the same sin over and over again. I wish i knew it……I remember an ex-coworker stating this verse and of course I am growing a blank.

    I have Mondayitis.

  • Topaz

    I appreciate your comments, Jolene! You are absolutely right. Some Catholics DO use confession as a license to sin. Just as bad, though: Some Catholics go on a “sin spree” the day before going to confession, kind of like Mardi Gras right before Lent begins.

    From what you told me, it sounds like your ex-husband uses confession to wipe away all his sins from the previous week, only to do it all over again, and again…

    And he teaches RCIA?! That is horrible.

    After the priest absolves us of our sins, we pray the Act of Contrition. I provided a link in the post, but the prayer is here:

    “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 Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
    In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen.”

    Notice the fourth and fifth lines: Repentance is avoiding whatever leads one to sin.

    Regarding your other comment: Maybe the verse you are referring to is Mark 3:28-29:

    “And I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    Lee Strobel, a Christian writer, says this concerning the above passage:

    “Blasphemy against the Spirit evidently is not just a one-time offense; rather, it is an ongoing attitude of rebellion – a stubborn way of life that continually resists, rejects and insults the Holy Spirit. This is what makes it, in effect, an eternal sin. Blasphemy against the Spirit is not unforgivable because of something done unintentionally in the past, but because of something being done deliberately and unrelentingly in the present.”

    I know that Calvinism teaches “once saved, always saved.” I used to attend a few different Baptist churches, and even some of the congregation would act the same as your ex-husband because of OSAS. Very sad.

    Anyway, sorry this comment is so lengthy; as you can see, I love talking about stuff like this. 🙂

  • Jolene

    🙂 Topaz …. my post was lengthy as well and I think you know me well enough to know, when I start typing ….I can’t stop. hahaha….. Thank you for finding the verse for me.

    On a lighter side…..I remember the first time I went to confession. I was eight??? I think?? in second grade….so maybe seven, needless to say I was young and attending Catholic school ….the whole class was excited to receive this sacrament because it only meant that after this we would have our First Communion shortly after.

    I was so nervous, my time was coming up …… I remember seeing the priest sitting along side the Virgin Mary. “What am I going to say”….I practiced, I even got cues from my mother. It was time…..I was extremely intimated, not only was I sitting next to “Gods buddy” as my dad called him, I was being watched by my family, although they couldn’t hear what I was saying. The priest prays with me and then asks me to repent.

    I said ” I stole my sisters fudgicle out of the freezer. I already had mine, but they were so good. My mom asked me if I took it and I told her no”….he looked at me holding back a smile…..I knew I had to come up with something better than that so I threw out that I also was mean to my parents. This seemed to be sufficient. I said the Act of Contrition in front of him and he told me what prayers I had to say in return.

    My mother asked me later what I told the priest and I told her that I told him how I took my sisters ice cream…she looked horrified. I, to this day think it’s cute in a very innocent way.

    • Topaz

      🙂 That is a very cute story! Thank you for sharing it.

      Haha. Yes, I do know you well enough to know you can’t stop typing. 😉 I am the same way. In person, though, I am extremely shy and very uncomfortable in large groups. I guess we have that in common, too!

      I didn’t know that you were raised Catholic. Are you part of another church now that you’re all grown up? Or are you still Catholic?

      It’s funny, but I have been getting some hateful comments (that I don’t allow of course) from the Sola Scriptura folks telling me everything that is “wrong” with my Church. Little do they know that I was once like them! I used to distribute Chick tracts that condemned Catholicism. I’ll have to write my conversion story and post it at some point.

      I’m thinking, “Dudes, I’ve been a member of churches ranging from Pentecostal to Baptist to Episcopal. I used to practice Wicca and Zen Buddhism as well.”

      Needless to say, I know how to answer all of their accusations, but since this isn’t an apologetics blog, I choose not to get sucked into such arguments.

      So that was the verse you were thinking of? That’s good. Actually, that verse didn’t make sense to me until I read commentaries on it.

      Have a great day!

      • Jolene

        wow…..I was wondering if others would have anything negative about what you wrote, I have no time for people like that. One sided…unable to see that we pray to the same God….how you pray is on you.

        I grew up Catholic…..went to Catholic school ,yes the kind with nuns…..I received all the sacraments as well. As an adult, I was conflicted. I didn’t feel like I was getting the necessary “Food” from a Catholic ceremony, it feel so repetitious. I went for the sake of my kids, plus my mom is Catholic…. my 1st husband and his family were and still are catholic….so I just went. It was after our divorce that I really struggled with my faith. ….. like you I practiced Wicca but then got such backlash from my kids father that I closeted it for awhile. I went back to the church…but still didn’t feel like i was “feeling” anything……it wasn’t until I found a Christian church in my town that I really felt the spirit, the pastors word really touched me….i began to understand the scripture….during this time, my ex (1) was still riding me for NOT going to catholic church and threatened me that if i took the kids to the Vineyard he would go to court …crazy……my daughter Ann really got something from the Vineyard and was upset with her father….my oldest though is 100% Catholic and raised a fuss (she was in college)….and my son just wanted to stay out of it but I made sure he continued with his Catholic studies and completed his sacraments.

        As of right now, I haven’t found a church where I live……but I pray, I believe that I still can have a relationship with our God even if it’s not inside a church…….but i know when the times right I will find a spiritual home once again.

        and for those who read this post …NO i’m NOT lost and NO you don’t need to pray for my soul. I know who my Lord and Savior is ….I have two rosaries beside my bed and pray!!!

        🙂 Topaz….. there will always be naysayers….we just have to rise above them!

      • Topaz

        I completely understand, Jolene. I was a member of the Church of Christ denomination in college, and it was more cultish than anything. We were forbidden to do things that were NOT condemned in the Bible like dancing, staying out after 10pm, moving out of town w/o getting permission, etc. (And people say Catholicism is unbiblical and too strict. Lol.)

        I respect where you are in your spiritual journey. As you said, “When the time is right.” I spent about 15 years in limbo, trying to find the right church for me. I didn’t grow up religious at all, so it was like starting from scratch.

        My indecision was tearing me apart and causing me so much anguish. Then I started praying continuously for God to lead me where He wanted me to be. And the rest is history. I know it sounds trite, but I had to let go and let God work.

        I’ll talk to you soon, my friend!

  • emmx2013

    Topaz,
    Thanks for telling us about your sacred moments in prayer. I’ll be thinking of you from time to time as I pray.
    Here’s to Your Health
    http://wp.me/3WxfF

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