I love the sacrament of confession and God’s mercy but still I am human and frail and my brain is somewhat broken and so I have great anxiety about going, despite the fact that, intellectually, I fully assent. My anxiety has reasons that have to do with human frailty and not with any doubt about God’s mercy. Trust me, God and I have had many talks about this. I tell him I think it’s unfair that I long for the sacrament so much but my stupid anxious brain boobytraps me and keeps me from going and it’s really unfair of him to set me up like that.
But today my 14 year old’s school notes were a necessary reminder about that. She wrote:
“God does not interfere whenever something goes wrong because of free will and the consequence of free will is that people will do bad things and people will suffer because of them.”
Yeah. And we’ve been reading Job this week too… we accept good from the Lord should we not also accept evil. Now… let’s be clear: God doesn’t wish evil upon us, he doesn’t want things to go wrong. But we have free will and sometimes the consequences of that are that people do bad things and people suffer and things *do* go wrong. Sometimes terribly so. So why should I be surprised when I suffer? Maybe I should try offering that suffering up. Maybe.
Anyway Friday was the feast of the Guardian Angels and I’ve been asking my guardian angel to help me with this one for a while now. (And I mean months and months and months of begging and pleading with much tears.) This morning when I woke up he let me know this was the day. Seriously, I felt a firm kick in my posterior. Today was Friday, the day our parish collaborative offers confessions and… real kicker, it cycles between the three parishes and this week it was at our parish, St Edith Stein. And on the feast of the Guardian Angels. There really are no coincidences. I felt certain that despite my terrible track record of broken resolutions, today would be different. Today I would make it. When I thought about confession I felt none of the usual turmoil and angst, just a calm certainty that today was the day. I’m telling you it was a supernatural calm, and didn’t come from me.
However, calm or not, I decided to take out some insurance lest the calm and certainty and resolve dissolve and fade by the end of the day. I put out prayer requests in several of my Facebook groups, figuring the more people I had praying the more likelihood I’d actually make it to confession. And all day I continued to feel deep serenity and peace when I thought of it instead of the usual churning anxiety. So *something* was definitely working.
B. and I made it to church a few minutes after confessions started. It was raining on us all the way there, though we could see the break in the clouds that was coming. We got there and there was already a bit of a line so we knelt down and I pulled out my phone and opened iBreviary and started praying midafternoon prayer. Which, man, really fit my mood.
“Lord, I know that your decrees are right, *
that you afflicted me justly.
Let your love be ready to console me *
by your promise to your servant.
Let your love come and I shall live *
for your law is my delight.”
“O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,
for you, O God, are my stronghold, *
the God who shows me love.
O God, come to my aid *
and let me look in triumph on my foes.
As for me, I will sing of your strength *
and each morning acclaim your love
for you have been my stronghold, *
a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,
for you, O God, are my stronghold, *
the God who shows me love.”
“Give us help against the foe: *
for the help of man is vain.
With God we shall do bravely *
and he will trample down our foes.”
God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
And there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the nether world on earth,
For justice is undying.
God has snatched me from the bonds of death.
– I shall walk among the living in his presence.
Finally her turn came and Bella went and made her confession then came back to kneel beside me and a nice German woman came and asked if I was waiting to go to confession — so that was my signal.
The priest looked at me with eyes of love and counseled me with words of love. It was beautiful and my sins were washed away and I felt light as a feather.
He told me to pray a decade of the rosary, the first Glorious mystery, the Resurrection. He told me to rejoice in my own resurrection and to remember in my prayers all those who accompanied me and assisted me and contributed to this moment of resurrection. Oh and I did.
I got back to my pew and the breviary app was showing me the final prayer from Daytime prayer and it was… almost eerily perfect.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you brought the repentant thief
from the suffering of the cross
to the joy of your kingdom.
Lord, when we die,
may we who confess our sins
be brought to you through the gates of heaven
that we may have eternal joy in that kingdom
where you live and reign for ever and ever.
I prayed that prayer and then my decade of the rosary and then Bella and I went out into sunshine and a glorious autumn afternoon at Golden Hour and drove home filled with joy.
After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And suddenly there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going ahead of you to Galilee; that is where you will see him.” Look! I have told you.’
The Lord led his people to freedom and they shouted with joy and gladness, alleluia.
Thank you, Guardian Angel.