advent, light, and confession

Thanks to Facebook friends Elizabeth Scalia and Tom Clowe posting two unrelated links to things they had read or seen, I ended up with quite a fruitful morning of prayer and reflection. I thought I’d pass them along since that seems to be the real gift of the internet although we’d all like to believe it’s really this.

It seems that confession is a hot topic this week, and I suppose, it should be. I was talking briefly to the gang on Catholic Weekend about it and the opportunity it brings us during Advent, and then I ran across Elizabeth’s recommendation for this beautiful reflection by Heather King, and I was undone by the beauty of it, and the simple simple truth, that what we want is to go home…to be home.

Like many people, I resist[ed] confession, and could list a multitude of rational reasons for it. Upon reflection, they are not rational at all, but mere rationalizations. Discomfort, shame, pride, inconvenience, ignorance, anger, shyness, shame, did I say shame?

In the midst of all the misunderstanding about this sacrament is the fear of rebuke. We are, after all, confessing our failings. Let me put that out there more accurately, our sins. I already feel pretty crappy about the fact that a confession doesn’t go by where I don’t confess some of the same things. Over and over and over again. At some point the priest is going to ask me to knock it off already. Maybe in a stern voice to shake me up a little and make me see the error of my ways.

Who wants that?

Well. I do. I want it very much. And I want the penance that goes with it.

But Tom’s post of this lovely video inspired by Newman’s poem, Pillar of the Cloud, reminded me of a different confession. One that I surmise was a good confession but yielded, not an intense penance, but a parting gift of this poem, straight from the priest’s own prayer book. He didn’t direct me to reflect on it or even read it. He just looked at me kindly and gave it to me. I guess we both left it up to Jesus to do His work in my heart.

I can’t come across this poem or the hymn without revisiting that day and the overwhelming sense of having been heard. Understood.


I understood, in a different way, in a way meaningful to me, what Heather meant by “a complete and utter miracle.”

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