The other day I posted
about wearing a chapel veil. It took me back to the first time I, consciously, wore something over my hair in Church. [sound of wayback machine]
In 1995 I wondered in, like a stranger in a strange land, to the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Agnes in St. Paul. I was still a member of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis but I was starting to “come back”. For about a year, I'd been lurking on Catholic forums and starting to read information that was forcing me to question my long held, and mostly inaccurate, beliefs about the faith.
Anyway, so here I was at St. Agnes, praying no one would act like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers
and point me out! I was a fairly prominent person at St. Joan's and was sure some folks who had been doing prayer incursions at St. Joan's were probably members of St. Agnes. In a lame attempt at blending in, I threw a shawl over my head. Yes, it was totally lame because not every woman there was "veiled" anyway and my efforts did not stem from anything heartfelt. I was scared. Also, the shawl was falling down. It was too long. Well, if you ever worn a veil you know how those first few times you are fidgeting with it. LOL! That's what it was like. I probably drew more attention to myself goofing around with the thing!
I arrived late as the Blessed Sacrament was already being carried to the Altar of Repose. Clackers, incence, Pange Lingua
, baldacchino, Deacons (for the record the Host was carried to the Altar of Repose by a priest I came to know more about later but did not recognize at the time-Father "Z" Zuhlsdorf!
) Needless to say, I did not know what was going on. I'd never seen anything like this before. Wait a minute, THESE were expressions of the Catholic faith? What the heck had I been doing? Processions I was used to involved dancing, tamborines, banners, singing, yelling, no Blessed Sacrament.
I didn't know what was going on but my inquisitive mind would not rest until I did. The terms in the paragraph above: clackers, baldacchino, Pange Lingua
? I had no idea what to call any of that then. I learned it later. It was the first time I'd ever heard the Pange Lingua
I only went that night because I'd heard they would have Adoration until Midnight. I had not planned (nor, honestly wanted to) catch any of the Mass. I was encouraged to believe the folks at St. Agnes were mutant freaks. Sorry, but that's where I was then. I had been participating in Adoration at another parish (the one I now call my home: St. Andrew) for a few months and was gaining much spiritual strength from the practice. So, I sat there in the pew after the Mass fidgeting with my shawl. Praying in the dark before the Altar of Repose. Many were there. I was surprised to see teenagers praying before the Altar. When I was their age, well, I could've been somewhere else.
I was there for a few hours. As I left, I observed the Confessional lights were on (Frs Altier and Welzbacher were open for business). I walked right past but I almost stopped and went in. I left. I was ashamed. Why? Back in January, I had to put my old cat to sleep. It was really hard on me. I made a "deal" with the Lord that if He would help me thru the difficult time, I'd go back to Confession. Here, nearly, 4 months later, I still had not lived up to my promise.
About a week later (Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday)-the same day Blessed John Paul II passed on. I went back to Confession after 15 years away from that Sacrament. I went to St. Andrew-my current parish. Confession acted like an enema upon my sins. I couldn't stop. Once I went back, I couldn’t stay away. I went often. Sin poured like vomit out of my mouth. I couldn’t hold it back, nor did I want to. When you are drunk on sin, you feel better when you disgorge it.
In the holiest seasons of our liturgical year (clue: we are in one now), it is a good practice to ready yourself for the holy solemnities approaching. The end of the calendar year is packed full of blessings: The Nativity of Our Lord, Feast of St. Stephen, Feast of the Holy Family, Feast of the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket, Vigil of Mary Mother of God. And that's just thru December 31st!!!! Wait, there's more; Epiphany awaits! To wax simplistic: would you go to a party and NOT be ready? Ready yourself to celebrate to the fullest by being properly prepared to receive the Holy Eucharist! Ready your soul. Go to Confession.
If you are scared, Father is going to "yell" at you: I've never known a Confessor to be less than overjoyed that I'm there. Even the 'severest' of priests is happy to be there and delighted, in his heart, that you are there too! Is Father going to jump up and do a little dance? Probably not (well, maybe later in the Rectory), but their calling is to bring souls to Christ and the Sacrament of Confession is a powerful help to them in their ministry.
Just a short while ago, I was in my basement waiting for the washer to stop so I could put more clothes in the dryer. I looked around the basement and, out loud, gave thanks to God. I thanked God for the many blessings He has given me, His often unworthy servant. The gift of a home. The gift of a job. Earlier in the day, I was cursing out loud and took the Lord's name in vain because a window shade fell out of the brackets again. I'm telling you my cat, Sodak, supposedly a dumb animal, has a better sense of the joy of Advent than I do. I was ashamed. The Lord has given me so many gifts and I repay Him by cursing His name and being angry and frustrated over something completely stupid.
So, you better believe I'll be taking the opportunity to go to Confession soon. I like to be as ready as possible before the holy days. Every Sunday is a holy day too!
What better gift can you receive, or give yourself, than the gift of repentance and forgiveness?