Bless me father for I have sinned

I was watching the calendar closely. Only 18 more days until I will be received into His Church! There is one, umm, “obstacle” – it has been many decades since my baptism, and I have never been to confession (a/k/a The Sacrament of Reconciliation – see Confession, getting out of deep trouble).

I was not planning on committing any mortal sins, of course, but I still didn’t want to have too long a period between my confession and February 7th just in case. For the first reception of the sacrament, it is recommended that an appointment is scheduled with a Priest. That way, no one is waiting in line behind you, and there is more time for Father to guide you through the process. Vince, our RCIA coordinator, told us it was time to schedule this now.

Not everyone does this, but I created a list. I was afraid my mind would go blank, and I would become a bumbling idiot. Along the same lines, I included acts of contrition with my list, so that I would not have to depend on memory or fumble for additional printed materials. Doing these things is completely OK.

On Wednesday I called the parish office not knowing what to expect. I thought about what I would say when the phone was answered, but I got a voice menu. I considered the options and chose #5 to connect with the office. No go, just the “general mailbox” at this time. That did not seem like the best choice. I called back and chose #2 to connect to a Priest. Maybe they have someone who handles their schedule. Nope, another choice to be made – #1 for Father {pastor}, #2 for Father {vicar}, #3 for Father…   I hit #1 and received our Pastor’s voice mail. A little flustered, I left a message. It was, I think, potentially coherent.

So far, so good. I felt a little relieved in that I didn’t have to talk to anyone at the moment or commit to a specific date. Delay is good, right? Our priests are very busy, so I expected to call back again in a day or two. That hope was quickly dashed only a couple hours later when Father Paul returned my call and offered to see me the next day. He was very gracious, and I quickly felt at ease. We were on for 2:00.

When a Catholic comes from confession, he does truly, by definition, step out into that dawn of his own beginning…   in that brief ritual God has really remade him in His own image. He may be grey and gouty, but he is only five minutes old.

G.K. Chesterton

Father had warned me he might be a little late, so I had additional time to look over my list and further examine my conscience. We proceeded to his office, a very comfortable environment, and got started. Father said a prayer and gently explained how to proceed. I felt completely at ease and was ready to jump right in.

One thing you might be wondering about is the wooden confessional as seen on TV. These are indeed still present in older churches, but these days most confessions are (so I understand) either behind a portable screen or just face-to-face as the penitent prefers. Face-to-face will be my preference.

After thinking about this for weeks I felt that, with the aid of my list, that I would not be too nervous. It was in fact easier than I anticipated. It was nothing like being called to the Principal’s office (for example) to explain your misbehavior. It was a lot more like speaking with a dear and trusted friend.

Father spent a few minutes when I was done giving me advice and a very appropriate penance. I then read an Act of Contrition. Father made a prayer of absolution, and we were done.

I didn’t look at my watch, but I think it was about 20 minutes or so, which I read is roughly typical for the first time. It turns out that Father Paul did not immediately have another appointment, so we just talked for about an hour more! We talked about our childhoods, views on various Church issues, our likes and dislikes, our vocations and so on. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other.

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Comments

  1. Welcome to the Faith George!
    Confession has really been an amazing blessing in our lives as Catholics and you will start to see how much grace is given in the confessional to not only be forgiven, but to grant the strength to not sin further!!! Something that was very different after 30 years as an evangelical!
    e mail me at dobrodoc1 (at) gmail.com and I will send you my latest Catholic CD.

  2. Welcome to the Church. And pardon my blog if it rants a bit about calvinist theology.

    http://kingofages.com/

  3. Welcome Home. God bless you richly. I'm a former Pentecostal minister of 18 year. Came home in January 2006 along with my entire family.

    Take Tiber Jimper up on his offer. It's an excellent CD.

    Looking forward to reading more of you blog in the days ahead.

    http://owenswain.com/2/2012/09/10/why-both-and/ and http://owenswain.com/2/2012/09/10/why-both-and/

  4. Tiber Jumper, JB, and Owen – thanks guys! I appreciate the welcome and encouragement.

    I am also a bit intimidated too. You all have such great blogs backed by so much knowledge and insight. I look forward to learning a lot from you…

  5. Bishop Fulton Sheen said that if more people frequented confession, there would be less need for a psychiatrist's couch. Welcome to the family!

  6. Is there something in particular about Feb. 7 as a day for coming into the Church? I just realized I'm only aware at my parish of RCIA people coming in at the same time at the Easter Vigil; but maybe that's just those being baptized.

  7. Our catechumens will be received at the Easter Vigil but our parish receives us candidates before Lent. I am not aware of anything special about 2/7 per se (and heard the original date was 2/14 but changed for a scheduling reason).

    My RCIA class is "Group II" and we overlapped "Group I". They were received 11/22.

  8. It's now Lent 2010 and I just read a wonderful piece from Deacon Greg Kandra. Check this out on his experience with confession.

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