On a rainy November morning, I sat in the parking lot of St. Christopher's, clutching the steering wheel of my minivan for dear life. I had registered with the Parish, made an appointment to talk things over with Father Dave, the Associate Pastor. The single most important thing in my mind, was scheduling the first confession I had said, in about eight years, and another nine years before that. The last time that I had gone to reconciliation had not gone so well, since there were aspects of Catholic Doctrine about sin, that I had a different personal point of view on at the time. Oh how things had changed. In any case, I was nervous.
After talking in his office for about two hours, I asked Father Dave when would be a good time to have my confession heard, because even though I wasn't ready to make one right then and there, I sure didn't want to wait until Saturday to confess. That would mean waiting until Sunday to receive the Holy Eucharist. It was Tuesday. Well, when I asked this, Father Dave's response startled me. "You know, all that a confession is, is a conversation. What do you think you've been doing here, all this time? I don't want to assume, but perhaps there are a few things that you would like to add. Are there?"
I couldn't help myself. It was like pulling a wagon full of my daughters and their Girl Scout Cookies down hill, then trying to stop it mid way. The momentum was incredible. I was naming sin after sin. I was even coming to realize sins that I had committed which I had not recognized before.
Once I had finished, I felt a rush of emotion. Father Dave said the words of absolution, and then I felt an extreme relief. It was emotional, spiritual, but tangible. My shoulders and knees felt different. I had never experienced anything like this before. I had not felt this way even one time after reconciliation during my childhood and adolescence.
I felt new and shiny. I knew that I was free of mortal sin, and in a state of grace. It was not even twenty four hours before I would have the opportunity to attend Mass, but I almost couldn't wait. I had wandered into Mass at various times while away from the Church. Once I again believed, I even attended Mass several times, but I didn't think that there was any point without receiving communion. I now know how wrong I was (but we'll get into that in a later entry). Oh how I was looking forward to Mass the next morning!
The day passed. Night fell. Dawn broke. I showered, shaved, and dressed myself in a frenzy. I don't even remember the drive to St. Christopher's that morning. I do remember the feel of holy water on my forehead. I remember the smell of the incense as I walked in. I remember the sound of the organ playing. I remember the feel of the kneelers against my knees. I remember the sight of Jesus on the Crucifix, gazing upon me.
Finally, Father Mike said the words of transubstantiation. This was what I had been waiting for. I had made my way half way through the line, when I panicked. I could clearly remember being taught to take communion on the tongue, and everyone here was taking it in the hand! My mind was frozen. The horror of the possibility of handling the host with anything less than absolute reverence, paralyzed my ability to reason. My hands went out in front of me, mirroring those who had gone in line before me. As I gently placed the host on my tongue, I took a deep, settling breath, made the sign of the cross, and felt peace. Not some greeting card peace. Not some profound poetry peace. No, this was the kind of peace that must have been over all things, as God gently and lovingly, breathed them into existence.