3/10/04: She has been preparing for several weeks, and more so for the past several days, and she has completed the first step towards her First Communion. That's right, her First Confession is done.
Are Catholics the only ones who do this? I have the feeling we are. It must seem ridiculous to most people how we choose to lay out our faults and problems and ask forgiveness from God through a human in front of us. Afterall, wouldn't going directly to God be more efficient?
But have you ever had something weighing on you that just needed to talk about? Sure, God is listening but there is something about having a person in front of you, listening, responding, and guiding you. Guiding you towards the realization that God is listening as well and telling you with no doubt that God has forgiven you and you can forgive yourself. There is something very powerful in hearing those words echo and then stay in your mind.
I know there are plenty of people who feel that intimate understanding with God without a mediator. Even some children. But I think it's invaluable for a developing spiritual life to have repeated support and guidance in the strength God has for us to lean on. Having one-on-one time with a priest while actively examining your conscience in order to better yourself is a way to achieve that.
And that's how I presented the process to her. She was nervous of course. No one wants to own up to their wrongdoings and mistakes. I asked her if she thought the priest would get mad or yell at her. No, she didn't think so. So, this was her time to get out those things that were wearing her down.
She was the last one in her class to go and she came out not only with a smile on her face but saying that he was funny, he told her to be a good girl, and to top it off she said that she did actually feel better.
That's the goal. Not to feel bad, not to feel berated, not to feel put down, not to feel like a bad person. But to focus on God and his forgiveness and in turn forgive ourselves and start fresh.