Friday, March 27, 2009
We are starting to get excited about my son’s upcoming First Communion. He knows all his prayers by heart and is ready to make his First Reconciliation. The girls will be making their annual Lenten Confession at the same time.
In our parish we have a public confession for families. Three priests sit on the altar. The entire body of parishioners has a brief prayer service, followed by the invitation to come onto the altar for confession. Parishioners line up and go to whichever priest is available at the moment. Confession is made quietly and is only “public” in that it is made out in the open in front of the parish. Children who are making theirs for the first time fill out a card and hand it to the priest so that the date of their First Reconciliation can be recorded by the Church.
My children are always nervous when it is time to go. They have trouble coming up with their list of sins, and worry about what the priest will think of them. They think they will stumble somewhere in their recital of the Act of Contrition.
But they always come down off the altar with bright smiles on their faces. The priest is always so understanding, and they feel so good getting the guilt of their sins off their little hearts and minds.
Last night at dinner, the children were talking about what sins they might confess. They were each full of suggestions about what sins each of the others should confess!
Then they asked me if I would be going up with them. “I don’t know,” I answered.
“Well you don’t have any sins, do you?”
“Everyone has sins,” I said.
“What kind of sins could you possibly have?” This question coming from my eleven-year-old, it truly warmed my heart. Of all my children, and at the age at which criticism of all family members comes naturally, she should know the best that I am not perfect. That she should still view me as largely inculpable was humbling.
“Well, that’s between me and God, same as for you.”
Thus ended the plucking of logs from each of the other’s eyes, and the soul-searching began.
Painting Above: Christ Cleansing the Temple, Berdardino Mei, 1650, Getty Museum.