Sacrament of Reconciliation
Although my family attended Immaculate Conception church, my high school was connected with the church down the road and held all graduations and sacramental ceremonies there. Officially called Cathedral of St. Peter-in-Chains, we students just called it St. Peter’s.
As a large student group, we would walk the 3 minutes south along Reid Street to attend Mass or participate in the Sacrament of Penance.
This sacrament, also called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, always caused me great stress. We would all line up and wait our turn to enter the small booth at the front of the Cathedral. I feared forgetting “my lines” and didn’t know which sins would be okay to share.
My friend, Monica, complained that the whole process was forced upon us and she didn’t want to participate in it.
I agreed with her that I felt like a hypocrite as I only engaged in the sacrament because it was mandatory.
As a matter of fact, I was asking forgiveness for things that I wasn’t even contrite about. I never planned to follow through on the penance assigned by the priest — usually a call to pray the Hail Mary or Our Father repeatedly.
But I argued with her and we exchanged heated words as she ducked out of the church before she got to the confessional.
Although I felt anxious and questioned the process of school-mandated confession, I still felt that there was something to be gained from it. I believed that we ought to follow through on the ceremony and begrudged that my friend didn’t participate.
It wasn’t until years later that I came to appreciate what I had gained. I realized that the sacrament offered me a solid foundation to recognize, confess, and repent of my sins.
It gave me the foundation to look inside myself and recognize that I say things, do things, and think things that are wrong.
It gave me the foundation to admit out loud that I have sinned. To say the words and ask for God’s forgiveness.
It gave me the foundation to not only be sorry for my sin but resolve to not do it again.
Although I haven’t been back to St. Peter’s since high school, I do like to keep short accounts with God and ask His forgiveness at the moment I recognize I’ve sinned.
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