I had the most amazing experience yesterday. As an Eastern Orthodox/Catholic convert, I’ve only gone to confession in the Eastern tradition. As a Catholic, you can confess in either Rite and I was the most familiar with the East. But, still, I did it reluctantly.
My previous background as a Jehovah’s Witness, well, the idea of confessing anything was to be avoided and only for those super serious things you did that you just couldn’t live with – or were caught doing. Yesterday, I had my first Roman Catholic Confession.
Because it’s Lent, our parish had one of those all day church confessions, meaning, several priests were available to hear your confession and you could just show up, get in line for the priest of your choice, and, well, confess. We wandered all over the church and then we finally chose one in the back where other people couldn’t really observe – I couldn’t deal with a crowd staring at me while making my first RC confession.
You had your choice: to go behind the screen and confess to the priest more anonymously – you’ve seen this in the movies – or sit across from him. I never thought I’d choose the latter but I did. I needed to explain that this was my first RC confession in case I fumbled around too much.
I’ve heard wonderful stories about confession – how you feel like you’re seeing the face of Christ – but I feared my experience wouldn’t be as glorious as all that. My experience was slightly different – God knew what I needed most. So I felt an 86-year-old father looking at me with the eyes of love – the kind of love we hear that God has for his children. I never really felt that before. God was more disciplinarian in my mind. God was distant. God was unavailable. Okay, I knew that God was more than that intellectually but, emotionally, at best, I felt that God was only half-interested in me.
This is what happens when you grow up without your own father – no matter the circumstances you feel abandoned by him and, yes, you have abandonment issues that include your relationship with God the Father. I had a step father but having now experienced my own father in recent years and this priestly father yesterday, I would say that relationship was more of uncle/niece or my mother’s boyfriend/mother’s daughter relationship. Myths of the Fatherless tells that story.
But, for the first time, I felt so loved by a father, so accepted by a father, and so encouraged and cheered on by a father. It was the most incredible experiences of my life. Now I want to go to confession every week. 🙂
Many people today doubt the value of Christianity and especially doubt the value of the Catholic Church. But I have experienced many miracles and blessings in the church since my conversion. And yesterday was the most amazing of all. You see, people today want to make up their own rules about life and throw away God’s rules. They want to deny the importance of biological fathers when it’s convenient. And if you want to screw up Society, well, the first thing you would do would be to throw away the father – then the climate is ripe to separate people from God the Father’s love.
We hear so much about a mother’s love but a father’s love is the most amazing love of all. It mirrors our relationship with our Heavenly Father.