NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I was told when an adult enters the water of baptism, past sins are washed away ... A time of renewal and celebration. On Easter Vigil, 2006, I stood at the baptismal font in a brown gown and instead of joyful anticipation, I was scared to death. Being fifty-three years old with a colorful past, I envisioned the water boiling due to the amount of sin I carried. Of course, the water remained cool.
After the baptism, I went to the ladies' room to remove the soggy brown gown (I had been fully immersed) and don a white one before reentering the church to receive confirmation. I was uncomfortable wearing white ... I didn’t feel cleansed. Days later, I shared those feelings with my sponsor and she suggested I make an appointment with our priest to make a general confession. Well, that was scarier yet! Once I was “found out”, I would surely be the quickest ex-communicant in Catholic history.
I tried to delay the inevitable by telling myself, “God knows what I did wrong, I already apologized to Him and He knows I’m sorry.” Then a little voice in my head would say, “Patti, if that were the case, why do you still feel unclean?” It had taken several arguments with that little voice before I made the appointment.
Walking into Father’s office, I shook nervously and even before I sat down, the tears flew. He handed me a box of tissues and smiled kindly. I was sure that kind look would disappear once I started talking. It didn’t. He listened, patted my hand, and even smiled from time to time. After a while, something miraculous happened. The shame slowly dissipated and I stopped avoiding the “really bad stuff”. I closed my eyes as I continued and sensed it wasn’t the priest holding my hand anymore, it was Jesus.
By the time my confession was over, I was emotionally drained and exhausted, but felt energized within. The weight of shame and remorse was lifted, and for the first time in decades, I was at peace and knew I was finally worthy of receiving the Eucharist. Until I actually verbalized my transgressions and asked for forgiveness, they darkened my soul. They were a detour on a beautiful faith journey that distanced me from God and experiencing His love and mercy.