I had my first Confession yesterday morning. I woke up nervous about it, but for incredibly silly reasons. "What if it's randomly cancelled and I don't know?" "What if there's not a line and I don't know where to stand?" While the first one has a bit of validity, what on Earth is going on with the second worry?
This is how my brain works. I'm not worried about how my life will sound to the priest. I'm not (too) worried about passing out from nerves. I'm worried about minor technicalities that don't change the fact that I need to Confess but could slightly mess with my day.
And actually, that's a little important: I do need to know where to be if I'm expecting to be doing something in a certain moment. But anyway:
I got to the parish about half through the hour of Confessions and there was already a line (a short one, thankfully). But as the time drew closer I found myself reciting Hail Mary in English and Latin (my new challenge: learn prayers in Latin) to calm my nerves. Doing things correctly is already important to me, but doing things correctly concerning faith is so much more important. I want to do everything I can to please God.
Soon enough, the door opened and it was my turn. I recognized the voice of the Father and instantly felt a greater ease. I wasn't embarrassed by my sins to the point of worrying about how saying them would make me appear. I did and have detested them, so I certainly did not treat my sins lightly. But Father was patient and kind in asking questions and giving his advice and act of penance.
This was wonderful. He understood it was my first Confession and made sure I was aware of what I was doing, checked that I was baptized, made certain that I was certain about converting. All bases were covered, so to speak, in a very compassionate way. I'm sure Father has heard tons of Confessions, probably a lot of first Confessions, but he was careful to guide me through the process and encourage me in my walk in a way that felt very easy and natural. Pray for your priests! They do amazing things in their vocation to cleanse and strengthen your soul. Pray that they will be faithful to the Church and their duties, that they will seek Truth and Love in all they do and that they will Confess themselves.
I walked out of the room and into the sanctuary, fell to my knees at a pew and could only say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." over again. The sacrament was more beautiful than I imagined it could be and the ease and cleansing I felt in my soul was all-encompassing. It made no sense to me that God's grace brought me to the Church and to Confession so I could be absolved.
But He did it. He brought me to His Church in a gradual, organic way. He satisfied my thirst for knowledge in one general area only to inspire intense hunger for the deeper facets of these areas. Everything that has happened on my road to Catholicism has happened only because He has loved me enough to show me where Truth can be found.
This love filled me up yet made me weightless on my walk back to my apartment. Thinking of it now only again baffles and humbles me. What great Love I have found, and how great the forgiveness only He can give.
If you're Catholic, go to Confession! It doesn't matter if it's been days or decades: what matters is that you contritely go. There is no better time than the present, especially since it's Advent. Prepare the way of the Lord, as St. John the Baptist says.
"Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much." James 5:16
"Be not ashamed to confess thy sins..." Ecclesiasticus 4:31
" If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity."
1 John 1:9
"He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that shall confess, and forsake them, shall obtain mercy."