Three weeks ago, we finally got to celebrate Grace’s First Confession. A week before the clothes were picked and laid out on her bed every day. The excitement was unreal. Grace asked me if I remembered my First Confession. Yes, of course I do. I was about eight years of age and like any other child I was trying to make up my ‘sins’. Grace thought it was funny. But isn’t it right? What kind of sins does an eight-year-old have? Of course they understand right and wrong – but sin?
I think the Sacrament of Reconciliation is often forgotten about. It all starts in 2nd class when it is mainly about the date for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. Some parishes during this pandemic have chosen to postpone the Sacrament of Reconciliation until after the child´s First Holy Communion. The Sacrament has been celebrated in the schools which led me to write all these experiences down in the first place, because I started to wonder, why is it that this Sacrament has been so neglected by many? It is one that brings many questions with it and it is, within my own age group, seldom celebrated on a regular basis.
Since Grace had started her second class journey she had been asking lots of questions and it made me reflect on my own ‘confession’ journey.
Asking for forgiveness and its true meaning of reconciliation was something I only discovered late in my teens.
My journey to fully discover the wonder of God’s mercy started during a World Youth Day. I have been attending many World Youth Days over the years but the first one stood out, as it had such a huge impact on my life. I often referred to that experience in my life as “I left as a tourist and came back as a pilgrim”. For those who do not know anything about the World Youth Day, it is an international event that takes place every two to three years. The Pope invites young people from all over the world to celebrate, to pray, to forgive, to live out the joy of our faith.
My first World Youth Day was in Toronto 2002 and during one of the catechesis it all came together for me what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about. The catechesis was obviously about forgiveness and I am not sure what it was that touched my heart but I remember thinking “please stop talking now, I need to confess”. That’s what I did. It had been over 10 years since my first confession and there I was – being welcomed back with open arms. I never forgot the long silence between the priests and me. All you could hear was me crying. The tears would not stop. Tears for my shortcomings, my pain, my anger, my anxiety, my love and my hope for a God that, I had just heard, was love – that had created me in his image and of course he wants to hear about what is going on in my life. We do not have to do it all alone. We can count on him. He wants to be part of our dreams, especially the shattered ones.
Reconciliation is something every family lives daily. Not one day goes by that we do not have to say I am sorry and we have to start again. I trust that Grace will experience God’s love and mercy a lot earlier than I did. I pray that she knows she is always welcome with open arms by a God that is love.
I explained to Grace that as she will grow older it will make sense, like Olaf in Frozen II sings: “This will all make sense when I am older. Someday I will see that this makes sense”.