Every now and then I long for the days of childhood innocence; back when I didn't understand real evil and even better, had never experienced it or had been the author of it. Yet even this frivolous longing carries within it God's grace, for it makes me even more grateful for the Sacrament of Confession.
All of this was on my mind when I entered the tiny room and knelt down behind the screen, the priest already intoning the beginning of this most sacred rite. I listed my sins...as always...knowing that God already knew what I had done and had only been waiting for me to come to Him to take full responsiblity and ask for the grace to overcome them, to start anew. Once again.
I listened to the advice of the priest and when prompted, began my Act of Contrition, the very same one I learned back in First Grade when I received the Sacraments.
And then it happened. I can't properly explain it, but there, as I prayed the words, it was as if I was taken back in time to a confessional long long ago. I was again six years old, and, having confessed my little sins, things like fighting with my brother and disobeying my mother, was moving haltingly through the Act of Contrition. I could feel my page-boy style hair cut and in my mind's eye, see a little of the light of day peeking through the woven wicker-type screen, revealing the silhouette of Fr. W. as he waiting patiently for me to complete the prayer, his hand already raised in anticipation of absolution.
There I was, kneeling in the Confessional, an adult, having committed much greater sins, having now had a long life of having gravely, over and over again, severed my relationship with God in ways I couldn't even have imagined as a child. I knelt there and the tears came as I recalled that sweet, sweet innocence of childhood.
It truly was as though suddenly, I was a child again, kneeling humbly before my God, knowing His Mercy, and overwhelmed because I am also an adult, an adult who has been wounded by sin. As I said that ancient prayer, I knew without a doubt that in my sorrow, in my repentance, in my desire and will to lean on God in order to overcome my sin, in His Mercy He indeed restored me to that beautiful innocence of childhood.
Still experiencing the sense of timelessness, lost in the echoes of childhood, I bowed my head to receive Absolution, my tears turning to joy with the unmerited, undeserved gift of a greater knowledge of God's incredible love.
As I stood to go, renewed, restored, I had come fully to myself again but could still turn to look at memory's image of me as a six year old, skipping gaily out of the confessional when only moments before I'd trudged in shyly and a bit guiltily, sent in to expose to the light the sins that could only exist under the cover of darkness.
I wiped the tears away as I returned to the chapel where I knelt once again to pray, this time to offer my assigned penance, raising my eyes to Jesus in thanksgiving, knowing His mercy is eternal and that in His eyes, I am once again a child of God.
Through the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus gave me glimpse through His own eyes; now I know that I need not long for that innocence of childhood, for it is but a mirror image of holiness, and through the grace of the Sacraments, we each can be that reflection for eternity. That is our Call.
The Sacrament of Confession restores us; no matter what we have done, by humbly accusing ourselves before God, through contrition for our sins, we open ourselves to His Grace. While we may still suffer the effects of sin, God remembers no more what He has forgiven. It doesn't matter if we are six or seven or eighty-one; once we have come to Jesus, it is, in His eyes, as though those things have never happened. We are, once again, a mere child He delights to indulge in His great love.
Thank you, Jesus.