The "Lil' Box" They Call a Confessional

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 10:05 AM in ,
My journey with Confession...

Well I would love to start by telling you how I always make it to confession but if you have read my previous post then you will know that I have been absent for some time from the Catholic Church. I went to confession on Ash Wednesday with out really expecting to but I did. I really didn't think that I needed to go so soon since it had been 20+ years since my last confession. So why go twice in one lent season. Right? In the back of my mind I knew I should go I just wanted to walk down that line that I am so good at for all these years. Why change over night? I can answer that myself. Because my heart tells me so. Or for that fact, I feel that God is telling me in order to heal I need to. Or it could just be the good old Catholic Guilt. I'm thinking it's not the Catholic guilt but something much deeper.

So today I thought it would be fitting to start off by making it to confession on my own before Triduum begins. To get a fresh start. In order to do this I would have to subject myself to the "lil box". I told myself as I was getting ready "I can do this""I know I can do this". I felt like the little engine that could. As I got ready I took a moment to print out on a peice of paper (Ya I need a cheat sheet of prayers) the Act of Contrition. I increased the font because this being 40 something sucks. My eye sight left me high and dry a year or so ago. I also took time to print out this great PDF "A Guide To Confession" to read as I stood in line before entering the "lil box". (please take a moment to look at that guide because the cover is something I am going to refer back to later).

Confession has never been my strong suit, I'm thinking I avoided it like the plague. But I realized that its not meant to be comforting or so I thought. Over the years I have learned so much from going to confession. Times have changes from when I made my first confession around the spring of 1975. Just before my first communion. I would love to say that I remember that one the best but sad to say that I can't remember it. I do know that I made my first confession in the "lil box" and even at that age I didn't like going into the lil dark room with only a dim light and a kneeling pad and a screened lil window that would open up when it was my turn. I think what I remember most from that is the smell of the confessionals. You know that "lil box".

I can remember in elementary school going into confession. Confessionals at that time were temporary structures made of a box fan on legs, draped with a black linen cloth over it. A chair behind for the priest or monsignor to sit on and the tile floor for us to kneel on. I remember this only because of the emotional scar that I have from it ((as you will learn I am being very sarcastic when I say emotional scar)). Our monsignor at the time was a fairly older gentleman who I respected deeply. Maybe I should use the word feared deeply. Not because he had ever done anything wrong to me or anything but for the fact that he ruled our parish with such honor, dignity, respect and royalty. So I found myself doing the usual confession on one occasion "Bless me father..." and as I was confessing my sins, a hand came from behind the black cloth and slap! I guess I deserved it at the time. I honestly don't remember what I was confessing but I am sure it was something that deserved more then just a slap. But to this day I remember that slap. Not because of the thought of being hit but because I needed something to knock some sense into me I am sure at the time, I was a wild child. I admit it freely and now that I am a parent I can only imagine what my parents said back then. 30+ years later I see that I needed the sense knocked into me. I don't remember this as a bad thing, just as a monumental pivotal point in my journey with confession.

The next memory I have of confession is going into the usual "lil box" confessionals at our local parish which many other love to do confession like that but not me. One word "Claustrophobic". I can, to this day remember the smell of the old confessionals. Man... the statement "If these walls could talk" comes to mind right now. I trudged through confession like a good little catholic school girl. Going when told to go and doing my penance when told to do them. I always seemed to have longer penance then everyone in my class. I always wondered why that was. Had I told them more terrible things? Had I sinned more then my best friend? I don't know but I know this much, my penance must have fit the crime.

As I became an adult and was attending the Newman Club at our local college I discovered FACE to FACE confession. Most people at the time feared the idea of FACE to FACE but I rejoiced at the idea of getting out of the little box. I was able to avoid the box that had frightened me. It had become a thing of the past. I loved the idea of FACE to FACE. I think also because it put it into actually making eye contact. I know now that it made me be more accountable for my sins then previously in the little box.

Well as the story went I feel away from the church and didn't go for 20+ years. I don't believe I gave it much thought. When I started into my annulment years after my divorce I felt that I was not excepted by the Catholic church. Little did I know at the time it was on my own thinking of that. I was going through an annulment but I was not doing anything wrong to the Catholic church other then staying distant. I didn't even think I could take communion during this time. But I found out I was wrong. One of my many mistakes in my belief system I had created over the years. I guess a system of protection but I now know just how wrong I was on these stupid ideas or theories I had. Which over this Lenten season I have answers to so many of my questions and corrections to some many of my mis-beliefs.

On Ash Wednesday I went to confession with out the intentions of going to confession. I had a meeting with new much younger monsignor and during this meeting I was offered the blessing of forgiveness. I realize just what a weight had been lifted off my shoulders with that simple yet moving blessing. Not that 20+ years had just been wiped away but a new fresh starting point. I guess I look at it that I had some major penance to do over the next few weeks of Lent. As the weeks passed I started to think that I was moving in the right direction. Like usual I jump in with both feet and then figure out what I am doing. Not that this is a bad thing but I usually don't give it much thought. So over this Lenten period I was really able to look at what I want and where I have been and where I am going.

I am home! I am cleansed. I look forward to all the new door openings my life is leading. I have been attending RCIA (even though I am already a Catholic, its a great educational service) over this period and learned about the Triduum. So I thought I would add confession to that list of things to do. So my schedule was:
Holy Thursday: Confession, Service and some adoration time after the service. (Not sure if adoration is the right word to use. But some praying time after the service.
Good Friday: 25 mile walk to all the local parishes, stations of the cross and evening service.
Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil

So this brings me to this morning. The morning of Holy Thursday. I got up and realized I would have enough time to go to confession before my meeting. I was passing on going to lunch in order to make my appointment. I felt a tug-a-war going on inside myself. I wanted to go to lunch with my Mom but I had an appointment. Ok lets spell it out. I didn't just have an appointment I had COUNSELING. There I said it. I feel weakened by saying it but oh well. I have not missed one but I just did not feel the energy to focus on negative stuff today of all days. The beginning of the Triduum. I finally just put peace to the fact that I was going to miss out on lunch with my Mom. There will be many other days to have lunch with her. So as I got ready I felt this doom and gloom come over me. I was thinking about going to confession. I was thinking about that lil box that I feared. Oh how will I survive that lil box.

Most mornings I am on the computer either playing around with FaceBook or Twittering. Today I would do neither. I had my cheat sheet in hand and my Guide to Confession in hand. I made my way to the church and went in, head held high as I walked past the "lil box" and felt a knot in the pit of my stomache. I went and knelt down and just took a moment to tell myself "You Can Do this". I then went and got in line. I did it. I got in line... hey baby steps remember. The line went around the church wall. Chairs were lined up along the wall as they are there for the over flow of parish members during mass. I took my seat and sat down. Just as I sat down I noticed the beam of sun light coming right down in the area I was sitting in. I then took out my "Guide to Confession" and noticed the sun beam on the cover. I felt so warm and I felt at home a calming peace was with in me. As it became time for Confession priests made their way to their set locations - 6 priest in total. Much to my surprise 4 FACE to FACE and 2 in the "lil box". Woo hoo I have escaped the "lil box" I can do FACE to FACE. I have a reprieve. Thank you GOD. As it became my time, the first FACE to FACE priest came open, I jumped on it. I had never meet this priest before. I was just so glad to be able to go FACE to FACE instead of that "lil box". I sat down and started... It didn't take much time to figure out I was at an ONLY Spanish speaking priest. Yeap here I was. We both struggled but we got the gist of things. I got my blessing and I was done. OR was I?

Does it count if you go to confession and you say your sins and you get your blessings and you say "The Act Of Contrition" but you don't understand a word that is said by the priest?

I was done. I went and said the rosary since I didn't understand if he had given me penance or not. I figured I would cover my bases (You know cover your butt). As I was finished I noticed it only took a short while from the time I sat down to the time I was finished. I had made it. All on my own and I was spared the "lil box". Thank you God! I went and said the rosary and took a moment to thank God for getting me through this moment in time.

As I left I phoned my mother who still needed to go to confession but was struggling to fit it into her schedule. I told her how quick it seemed to be going. She is one that loves the "lil box" she says she can never do the FACE to FACE. She's old school and that's OK.

SIDE NOTE: Remember that tug-a-war I told you about earlier well I received a phone call from my Counselor having to reschedule because something had come up. I was able to make it to lunch with my Mom after all. Lunch was awesome because my mother got to tell me about her experience with confession which was new to her. She went to a confessional that is one that can be either old school or FACE to FACE. She talked to the priest I guess for quite sometime about the fact that she was not comfortable with FACE to FACE but she liked this less formal setting then the "lil box". The priest gave her her penance on a little card Psalm 51 with brief suggestion of Prayer. I'm proud she tried something NEW. I love my Mom and I am happy she gave me the gift of being Catholic. Thanks Mom. Thank you for teaching me and leading me to God.

So here was my adventure with Confession. May you have a wonderful day and a peaceful Triduum.


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