This weekend I attended the four-day mission for the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum @ the National HQ parish, Assumption Grotto, in Detroit. Since I live in a nearby suburb the trip is very do-able for me, as it only takes about half an hour to get there.
It started on Thursday evening, with Confession, the Holy Rosary, Holy Mass, a talk about the writings of St. Paul, and Benediction. Friday & Saturday were filled with more talks, the Holy Rosary, Benediction and Exposition, Holy Mass every day (of course) and interviews for anyone who was interested in becoming a member. Today, Sunday, there was supposed to be a ceremony to accept the Consecration Promises of anyone who had completed their first year of Formation, to become an Associate member...but I had to leave before this took place, so I'm afraid I missed it. No worries, since I am already a member myself!
As far as the topics of the talks went, mostly they centered on St. Paul, with one about Our Lady and the Angels and another one centering on God's will and how to discern It for our lives. Since this is a Jubilee Year dedicated to St. Paul, it was a wonderful way to learn more about him; for instance, I had not realized that he was a total believer and devotee of the Holy Angels even before he was struck down on the Road to Damascus. There are many other things that I could relate here concerning St. Paul and things that he wrote, of which I had no idea until now, but that is a subject for another post. What concerns me here today is a simple thing, for which I am sure my own Guardian Angel is quite happy.
Or, maybe it's not so simple...it all depends on how you look at it.
Ok. I am going to be completely open and honest here ~ mostly about something that is personal to me and probably to alot of others out there, although I don't know if they would care to admit it, especially in public, lol ~ but I get nervous about Confession, sometimes more than others, depending on how long it's been...which is a great reason to follow the suggestion of Fr. John that night.
So, yes, I did go to Confession on Thursday evening ~ the first of the four days of this mission. I had not been to this Sacrament for nearly six weeks. That's a long time by some standards, certainly by the measurements that Our Lord must use, but in human terms, given that alot of us are in the same boat, I would be willing to bet that it is not that long at all.
Of course, if I had been mentally accusing myself of some mortal sin (Heaven forbid!), then I would definitely high-tail it to the nearest box, but since I had not been, I let it go...for much longer than is wise.
It seems that time has been slipping away from me of late, and when I checked my palm pilot to see the last time I had been there, I was astonished to see the six-week gap! So, gratefully, I waited in the line at the Confessional and took my timid turn. And, as usual, what I found there was amazing, merciful and memorable.
It was the first time with this particular priest, so he was unaware of my own situation...and also of the fact that I come from a parish known to them as "The Little Grotto" ~ a nickname given for the fact that it so closely resembles Assumption Grotto in both traditional leanings and is also the "suburban host" whenever they come out to the suburbs to conduct one of their missions.
I told him that I was in the habit of more frequent Confession ever since joining my parish about a year and a half ago, since I was accustomed to going two-three times a year and was now used to going about four-to-six weeks. Then, he surprised me with a "one-up-on-you" suggestion: Why not try to make it every two weeks? And did I know that the Saints frequently went every day, some of them more than once?!?
"Why no, Father, I was not aware of that fact, but given that they were Saints, I am not too surprised!"
"Well then," was his response, "are you not also trying to become a Saint?"
I had to admit it ~ he had me there! And he knew it...
I mean, what else could I say, right?
So, as he waxed eloquently about my going to Confession more than once a month, I had to agree ~ and I really do, all silliness aside here. When he first suggested that I should try, if it's not too hard for me, I knelt there thinking about how much better it would be for me.
"Too hard?" I was thinking..."no!" (I am blessed to be in a parish where, not only do the priests there frequently advocate Confession as often as possible, but we are given the opportunity before every Holy Mass! ...every weekend there are ten Holy Masses offered and during the week, every day has at least three, some four!)
Then, this afternoon, we had the final day of the mission and the talk was about discerning God's Will for our lives. And I couldn't help but think how great it would be for me to start doing exactly what Fr. John proposed.
The last time I posted here about a Confession, I explained how things seem to come together to me as if God Himself was working events to enlighten my mind in some way ~ what He was showing me, what I was supposed to understand here, was really quite simple: Why would it not be His Will for me to go to Confession as often as the good priest was suggesting?
When I was a youngster attending Catholic school and studying the Sacraments, the Sisters would tell us how we should receive the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible ~ and also Confession. Two weeks in between was the recommended norm...and here I was again, fifty years later, hearing the same thing. Nobody, even most priests, had suggested this to me in years! And did I really need someone else to suggest it before I took the hint? Not really, but after a lifetime of trying to get better one step at a time, it's about time for this one!
I once asked another priest how often I should attend and he told me about two-three times a year was good. When I told another priest what I had been told, he exclaimed, "Some priests just do not want to work!"
And I agree...
One thing I can say here is this: ever since I have been going to Confession more often, I have felt the grace of God in my life even more powerfully than I ever did before. I understand better how to avoid the pitfalls of certain sins that I had been committing and it is much easier to not commit them now.
I am not saying, even by the longest shot, that I am any more perfect than I was before, but what I am saying is that the more I am exposed to His grace the more I feel His peace, and the more I can walk away from these temptations.
And that, to me, is a very good reason ~ if not the best ~ for taking Fr. John up on his idea. Here I was, patting myself on the back for getting there every few weeks, when what I should have been doing was trying to find a better way to avoid my bad habits and sins altogether.
I'm sure Fr. John does not realize the impact of his simple suggestion to my mind, but I am grateful for his putting it there! And I have not stopped thinking about it since.
Simple, eh? After all, it was just a suggestion...