I went to confession the other day. It had been a while, like a loooong while, since I had last been. There really isn’t a good reason why, especially here in Stuebenville, where there are at least 5 Catholic churches within 10 minutes from my house. Each week, I would plan to go on Saturday and each week, something came up or I just plain old forgot. Like I said, no good reason. The diocese offered 24 hour adoration and confession at one of the local churches on Friday. No excuses. It was time. After I left work on Friday, I headed over to Blessed Sacrament. When I got there, I just sat for a bit in front of the monstrance. I wanted to quiet my mind so that I could prepare to make a “good”confession.
So I sat and sat and sat. I don’t know about you, but the more I try to quiet my mind, the louder my internal voice gets. The circus monkeys in my head were clanging around, I was starting to feel more and more anxious. I decided to pull out my rosary, my go to for peace. I had even brought my earbuds so that I could listen to my favorite rosary podcast, “The Sound of the Rosary” by Christian Peschken. His quiet, steady voice helped to drown out the monkeys and I started to feel a little bit more calm. I pulled out my bible and journal and started to write it out. I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to work through, but I wrote and I wrote. I kept glancing at the monstrance, trying to see Jesus in the exposed Eucharist. I kept searching for that connection, that feeling of experiencing God in His presence. It was like He was almost there. I could almost touch Him, but whenever reached out, He slipped out of my grasp. It seemed as if there was a fence. I was on one side and He was on the other. I could peek between the slats of the fence and I would catch a glimpse of Him here or there, but that was it.
I was still sitting, waiting, watching, when it occurred to me. The fence was sin. It was the wall that I had inadvertently built up each time I had offended Him. Each time that I lost my patience and snapped at one of the kids, each time that I got carried away in gossip or felt that pang of jealousy, I had helped to distance myself from Him. He had never moved. He was still there, steadfast in His Love and mercy. It was me that had put up the fence. And because it had been so long since I had been to confession, the fence was pretty tall. It was blocking out the sun or in this case the Son.
It was my turn to enter the confessional. I sat down across from the priest and just started to unload. With each word, I could feel the fence coming down. I started to cry. I just kept telling the priest how inadequate I felt. I told him how I had continually failed my husband, my kids, myself. I told him that it seemed like the harder that I tried to be a good mom and wife and Catholic, the worse I seemed to do. I felt like a failure and I basically sucked. (Yes, I actually said that I sucked…to a priest. Not a finer moment, but an honest one.) I continued to cry as I told him sin after sin, failing after failing. And then I stopped.
I took a deep breath and looked up at him He just sat there for a minute just looking at me. And then he smiled. He said, ” First of all, you don’t suck.”
I stopped crying and I just laughed. “Ummm thank you?” I said.
He went on to say that God’s love is always there, even when we don’t feel it. In those moments when I am reaching out and can’t feel a connection, He is still there. He is still loving me. He said, “It is like the sun. You know that it’s always there, even on cloudy days when the sky is gray and dreary. It is there even at nighttime when the sky is dark. It is always there and so is He. ”
Of course He is. He has never moved. His love has never diminished. I just allowed the sin in my life to block Him out. I built the fence. I put the distance there. And all along, I had the key to reconnect. I had the key to dismantling the fence. All that I had to do was to ask forgiveness. The grace from the sacrament of Reconciliation was just waiting for me to claim it. As I said my Act of Contrition, I felt the lightness and freedom that comes from confession. I felt the cleansing power of the tears that I had shed. I felt forgiven. I once again thanked God for the gift of the sacraments. I thanked Him for the mercy that He continually shows us. I thanked Him for His unwavering and unconditional Love.
And once again, I wondered why I had waited so long to go.
My friends, don’t wait. Don’t let Satan stop you from knocking down your fence. Satan would like nothing more than for you to build a wall so tall and so thick that the Son can never get through. He wants you to think that there is nothing on the other side. He wants you to believe that you are such a failure that God has left you. But it’s not true. He is always there, even if you can’t see Him, even if you can’t feel Him. He is there just waiting for you to come back to Him. He is just waiting to forgive you. All that you have to do is ask.