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.