As I knew He would, God provided someone to watch my kids so I could meet with my priest yesterday. So I went down to the parish at noon. He asked questions about my background and baptism. I explained what I remembered and what my mom had told me and he concluded that I would not need a conditional baptism. This was a bit of a relief for me. I figured while I was there, I'd ask him a few more questions... It's not every day I have a priest to speak to on a one on one basis about the little things that linger in my mind so I took advantage of the moment. He was wonderfully patient and thorough.
He then agreed to listen to my first confession. I was quite nervous and somehow missed the Act of Contrition, which he said I could say as I leave, if I so wish. Prior to giving me penance, he said some wonderfully encouraging things. Specifically, I should try each day to be better, not perfect. To strive for perfection may only lead to disappointment every time I fail... but to strive to daily be better will allow me to continue to grow closer to God. Every day, pray a little more, read the Scriptures a little more, be a bit kinder than the day before, etc. In areas of wrong-doing, strive every day to do a little less: be less angry than the day before, less judgmental, etc. This was very encouraging since I often feel overwhelmed when I try to eliminate a negative behavior (or add a positive one) in one swift attempt and end up falling flat on my face in the mud.
I left with peace. I felt inspired to continue growing closer to God. I am working with a clean slate and I feel much lighter today... much less burdened and better capable of accepting God's merciful love for me. What an absolutely wonderful sacrament!
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." ( John 20:21-23 NIV)
Forgiveness came to me from God through the priest. As I received absolution, it was not the words of the priest I was hearing, but Christ's forgiveness, mercy and love.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a real and tangible way to receive and hear your forgiveness. Amen.