Sunday Confession: Reconcile

Reconcile.

Reconciliation.

I can never say just 'reconcile'. I always elongate the word out until it's reconciliation.

It's a beautiful word that means to make better, restore relations to a friendly state.

Basically, make peace.

But when I hear that word I'm automatically transported back in time to the days I rocked the black and white saddle oxford shoes and the just as creative plaid jumper.

I went to a Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade. The type where we had the same 20 kids from kindergarten to eighth grade. Where everyone knew everyone's name and business.

Not exactly sure how much business I had going on during that time period besides organizing my Lisa Frank folders in my trapper keeper but you get my point.

If you're not familiar with Catholicism, there are seven sacraments -listed below- to partake in so we could be closer to God and in his grace. Or something like that? That's the jist of it. Honestly, I was more enamored with the works of mercy than the sacraments. You know-feed the hungry, visit the
imprisoned, clothe the naked...those works of mercy.

Baptism.
Reconciliation.
Communion.
Confirmation.
Matrimony.
Anointing of the Sick.
Holy Orders.

I was going to give you a short synopsis of each one but...no.

I don't wanna.

Hey, there's always Google if you want to learn more.

So.

I was in the second grade when I went to my first reconciliation. We spent months preparing for it. We chanted the ten commandments daily just so we knew which ones we broke so we could confess when the time was right.

We learned about the grace of God and how confession was our opportunity to open dialogue directly to Him through the priest and get our penance for our sins.

I always found it so weird.

I remember asking my mom over and over "If God is everywhere doesn't he already know what I did? Why can't I just apologize to God directly? Why do I have to tell Father David? Why would I have to say ten Hail Marys?"

I know. My poor mother.

She gave me the answer that I assume my grandparents gave her: "If you died right  now you wouldn't want to face eternal damnation".

Nothing avoids answering the question, terrifying your child into silence and placing guilt in that childs heart quite like the fear of eternal damnation.

For months of preparation, it happened quite quickly but things like that always do. It was an afternoon and our class sat in a fidgety silence recounting our transgressions in our heads.

Before I knew it I was in the confessional.  With the red light lit on the outside of the door so no one would disturb us.

Sitting face to face with the priest.

I could have chose to kneel behind the screen but chances were he'd know who I was anyway.

I rattled off my sins and he talked and sent me on my way with some advice and prayers.

And so a tradition was born.

Every Saturday afternoon I would ride my bike to the church and go to confession.

I did it because l wanted to but also because l thought it was expected of me.

I'd confess impure thoughts, my sassiness to my mom, doubts about believing and so on.

But  never confessed that I found it so awkward. I thought the point was to make peace and I left with fistfuls of prayers. When I look back on it now, I think that the point of the prayers were for further reflection.

But I didn't understand that. I took it as it was presented-a get out of hell card.

So I confessed the sins I thought I should but kept all the soul crushing questions to myself.

I never brought up my confusion of why my dad didn't find me or my mom worthy enough to stick around.

I never brought up my anger of my mom having operation after operation and no money.

Stuff l needed to reconcile-not normal angsty, adolescent issues.

I did what I thought was right or what was expected.

Did it break the 10 commandments? Report it, take your penance, and save your soul. I saw things black and white as a child so I wasn't going to waste the Fathers' time with trivial questions.

I never brought up that I always felt guilty I couldn't help more or never truly at peace.

And the WHOLE point of reconcilation was to make peace.

I stopped going in eleventh grade but it was years after that when I found time to learn what reconcilation was.

One of the biggest things l learned was that l was confusing reconcilation with forgiveness. l thought if l forgave myself that the problem was reconciled until  l ran into the same problem again.

It took me a while to define forgiveness and reconcilation. Yes, they can go hand in hand but it doesn't necessarily mean they do.

Forgiveness is letting go. Choosing not to hold anger or pain in your heart or your memories and moving on.

Reconcilation is a little different. l'd like to say it's forgiveness with it's work boots on but that's not entirely accurate. lt's work. lt's pain. lt's dedication. lt's taking something that's been destroyed  by either actions or words and trying earnestly to repair it.

It's beautiful.

But sometimes the damage is too deep.  When you get all the way down to the foundation we find out it's bad. That it's no place to rebuild anything.

And even though that may not seem okay, it is.

I fought with that for a while. l thought l had to fix things, had to make it better. l thought l could fix shotty foundations and lives of lies. And that would lead to bitterness and heartbreak.

This is where my friend forgiveness stepped in and said 'don't worry l got this' and things started falling in place.

l reconcile what l can and let go of what l can't.

And you know what? lt doesn't feel weird. lt feels right.

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