On the first Thursday of the month, I am joining a community of bloggers to reflect on our faith. Today we are posting about New Life… Spring…Easter… over at Violet Nesdoly’s blog.
Like many Catholic families, my brothers and I attended parochial school. On the first Friday of the month, we went to Mass, which meant every first Thursday we headed to confession. Each grade had an allotted time slot, so the priest would not be overwhelmed by the web of lies ready to assault him. As we stood in line waiting for our turn, we discussed the transgressions we would make up… “I’m going to tell him I fought with my brothers… I’m going to tell him I disrespected my parents… I’m going to tell him I coveted my neighbor’s lunch snack…” When it was our turn, we slipped inside the confessional, kneeled near the veiled window, blessed ourselves, recited the standard prayer, shared our sins, asked for forgiveness, received our penance, and prayed it all away. Our souls were clean, and we were renewed. It was a practiced ritual, which had little effect on me until a few years ago when I returned to my faith.
After more than a twenty year absence, I returned to church. Like many people faced with a crisis, it was an illness with my son, which literally brought me to my knees. I settled into the weekly routine, but this time around I knew I wanted more. Although I knew the “how,” of my faith, I never really understood the “why” to the degree that it would matter in my life. Through a series of events stemming from joining a Fellowship Prayer Group, I attended my first retreat called Life in the Spirit, which was a dynamic experience of faith renewal.
Beyond the inspirational talks, reconciliation was the most memorable. While instrumental music played, the room was darkened… illuminated only by candles along the path from the prayer service to the meeting area. When I met face to face with the priest, we had a beautiful conversation… instead of feeling guilty, I simply released my burdens and opened myself up to receive grace. Following reconciliation, a group of women washed my hands, warmed them with lotion, and handed me a candle to light and leave in the sand… Finally I was led to a dimly lit room where many people prayed over me. It was a powerful moment… one that healed my spirit, cleaned up my mess, and left me with a renewed sense of hope.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my spiritual journey. As I lead my parish’s next retreat team, it’s comforting to know I have a place to reflect on the process and share the insights gained from the wisdom of women. Women like me who are seeking the path toward truth, purpose and peace by sorting through our Beautiful Messes.