"Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry....."
Every time P has recited the Act of Contrition I still hear the words that I learned..... The modern way starts like this: "My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart...." She has had the prayer memorized forwards and backwards since last fall and the day of her First Reconciliation had finally arrived.
England and I attended a Catholic school. The church was very ornate in its architecture and had the communion rail where everyone sort of just flocked to the alter without much order. The confessionals were small rooms lined with dark wood and smelled like a mixture of stale incense and starch.
We memorized the order of the confession, (old version of) the Act of Contrition, and got to choose between a face to face or a screen. We all chose the screen side where you kneel in a little room on the other side and just see the outline of the priest flickering in the candle light. After going to a face to face I realized the screen side was a bit more terrifying.
After I transfered to public school, my visits to the confessional became less and less until it was time for my Confirmation. As an adult I rarely find myself attending a penance service. I would venture that this is rather common for adults since we don't like to talk about our faults outright and seem to find an endless way to justify our wrongs.
P made it through her First Reconciliation with ease. Not visibly nervous she walked in with a smile on her face and came out smiling as well. We had spent the afternoon reviewing the order, talking about right and wrong, and practicing the Act of Contrition. She nailed it!
She asked me if I was going to go to confession too.
The moment of truth.
Yes, I was.
Our Pastor is a really animated, enthusiastic, affirming young man. Of course all of this made me extra nervous.
One big breath, then like I had rehearsed with P, I followed the order and laid out my faults.....
I expressed concern that I sometimes I get snippy with my children over petty stupid stuff that didn't matter much.
He launched into the most amazing parent pep talk ever! He told me I am doing a great job, that he can see that I am a great mom because of the way P is and how I am with J and his energy, he said that I am really relaying the importance of faith to P because she carries herself with confidence during church related activities.....He told me to continue to do what I'm doing as a mom and always remember that leading by example is very important...
His hands and arms are very animated while he is speaking to me and I am feeling great! I am getting my own personal homily and I, too, am nailing confession!
He finishes and is preparing to do the absolution.....I am so pumped up on confession and parenting right at that moment.....He raises his hand to pray over me and
I land a high-five on his open palm just as he begins the final forgiveness act.