By Allison Gingras
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. R. I will rise and go to my father. (from Psalm 51, today’s Responsorial Psalm)
As a little girl I often dreamed of having a fairy godmother, one that pops up at my most dire moment and offers me three wishes. My wishes were simple: money, a handsome prince, and world peace.
That third wish had a few motives behind it. First, I was a child of the 70s and early 80s, when the world seemed always poised on the edge of war, and it was important we avoided such things so I’d have more time to enjoy my other two wishes. Second, there was, I admit, a small part of me that wondered if such a philanthropic wish might get me a few extra wishes for myself.
As an adult, my wishes might not be much different. Though to be fair, I have to acknowledge that wish number two was actually granted over 30 years ago! Unfortunately, he did not come bearing wish number one!
As I read today’s Psalm, asking God to keep me steadfast in faith and stir in me a desire to avoid sin, a strange thought erupted. Would I ever use one of those precious wishes to be given a spirit impervious to sin? It is the one gift that would bring me closest to my Lord as well as the greatest assurance of heaven. Could I forgo the decidedly more tempting comforts and treasures of this earthly life for the unseen hope that comes in eternal life?
While the wish decision will never come to be, the essence of this choice is still part of my every-day life. Every moment, I am choosing between grace or temptation, and it is rare that at the end of the day the triumphs have outweighed the slips and trips. David’s words in Psalm 51, after committing some of the gravest acts one can, brings me hope in the promise of healing available in the mercy of God, which is no more prominent than in the participation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In 2009, after being a Catholic my entire life, I made a startling discovery about Confession. It was much more than my get-out-of-hell-free card that I renewed now and then … and then tried really hard to hold onto, though it was usually less valuable within hours of my time in the confessional. As a wife, mother and daughter, those very things meant to sanctify me, are often the very things that will probably bring me condemnation (or at least the fodder for many a day in Purgatory). The life-changing, and ultimately FAITH-changing moment came when I was reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the first time and noted the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation was one of the SACRAMENTS OF HEALING!
What?! Confession was not there just to force me to fess up to my priest what a jerk I am?! Nope, not even close!
This beautiful encounter with Jesus—through the gift of the priesthood—was meant to heal. To create in me a clean heart, one free from the shame and guilt of my poor choices and fallen nature. To renew in me a determination to do better the next time … not of my own accord but through God’s Holy Spirit living within me in the form of grace.
Reconciliation empties our earthen vessels of the burdens of sin and replaces in them the goodness of God; the hope and help that comes from yoking myself to Him.
This great gift is not limited as my dreamed of wishes would have been. It is available to partake in as frequently as I need; I like to visit the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least monthly. The treasure is far more valuable than money; the prince holds every promise and desire a girl could ever possibly hope for; and the peace surpasses anything this world has to give. I guess wishes really do come true!
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Allison blogs, writes and speaks about living an everyday life of faith. She created the “Words With” daily devotional app series, Words with Jesus, and offers presentations on forgiveness, trust, and lessons from the Blessed Mother.