Sunday, August 31, 2008

Forgiven, and Able to Forgive

I don't go to confession weekly, although that would probably be ideal. I know some saints actually went daily. I go monthly, but it's not set in stone in my planner like visiting my orthodontist or working out with my trainer. I let my conscience tell me when it's time to seek reconciliation, and having a daily prayer time allows me to listen closely for the right time.

I walked to church today with a scheduled consultation, but when I prayed about what I was about to consult, I felt in my heart my anger surfacing towards certain people who had hurt me in the past. It was a delayed and denied anger that was triggered recently. I justified it as righteous anger, for indeed I was a victim of wrongdoing, yet seething and fuming on my seat at church later on while waiting for the priest, I realized I was harboring unforgiveness as well, and for that I felt ashamed before God.

To my and the priest's surprise (for I said I had something to consult about service), the words came tumbling out of me in unfinished sentences, the anger, resentment, envy, and bitterness that I had been carrying in my heart, which hindered me from experiencing God's presence more joyfully. I begged for His forgiveness, surprised at my own willingness to hold on to the anger and unwillingness to forgive. The priest gave my penance and absolution and I immediately felt my heart quiet a little. I still had questions, but a peace that surpassed all understanding washed over me.

I walked home in the middle of a thunderstorm, praying about what God was asking me to do, and did not notice that I was soaked from my head down to my suede shoes. The rain also washed away the negative feelings in my heart. Indeed, when I got home and sat down to reflect on what to do regarding the people I wanted to erase from my life (a sheer impossibility), I found myself not anymore as angry towards them.

I was forgiven for my sins (and I had many), and I felt the grace to forgive welling up inside me. Despite the lack of knowledge from these people that they had sinned against me. Despite the lack of apology from the people who had hurt me. I no longer had the unwavering desire to lash out in anger (a regrettable action, I know). I could sit in my room and pray for them, actually. No way could I have managed that on my own. Jesus in my heart, He alone was the one who could do that.

I was able to laugh with a friend about my own dramatic tendencies afterwards. I was able to dream of a life beyond my situation and not dwell on the past. I was able to acknowledge that I was blessed, gifted, and loved, by God who forgave me no matter how selfishly or childishly I acted. And yes, saying my sins, confessing them, to a priest who was given the authority to forgive by Jesus, made it all the more better. It made me more sincere in my confession, and made the forgiveness more concrete, as it was said out loud.

The blessings I received after my confession are a foretaste of heaven. To think it took all of ten minutes, although the words came out of my gut and my memories of pains from a distant past. It took a walk to the church and a walk in the rain. I don't know what took me so long. I should seek confession more often and not hold on to sin. Even if I sin repeatedly, I should confess repeatedly.

After all, I brush my teeth even if I know that I will eat and dirty them again. If I prioritize a fresh mouth, all the more should I prioritize a fresh, clean soul, as often as it takes.

I thank God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a door to an outpouring of His grace.

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