Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 6 months since my last confession. These are my sins.
As I stood in line with my classmates, I repeated this phrase over and over in my mind. Anxiety filled me. I feared that the moment I got in the confessional on my knees, I’d forget the words.
Being a shy child, I dreaded being put on the spot.
I was more nervous about not remembering “my lines” than I was about my sins.
And what sins did I even have? Pushing my brother? Swearing under my breath? Lying to my mom?
What would I tell the priest today?
I didn’t really feel like I was sorry for my sins. I didn’t feel contrite nor did I plan not to do it again.
As a matter of fact, I knew I would likely push my brother, swear, and lie to my mom again that very weekend.
And then what? The priest would give me some homework like praying three Hail Mary’s and four Our Fathers.
It just didn’t make sense to me to recite a prayer repeatedly as a way to earn forgiveness. It felt like a waste of time.
However, the repeated practice of confession did teach me a couple of things.
I had to reflect on my behavior and recognize that there were things that I said, things that I did, and things that I thought were wrong. I was not the perfect little girl that I wanted everyone to believe that I was.
The penance of repeating prayers wasn’t about mindless repetition. It was used to get me to focus on God and stop my wandering mind.
And years later I still remember “my lines”.
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