By Kathleeen Billings
While visiting my daughter Gemma at Benedictine College for family weekend last month, there was a little girl, probably about two years old, that caught my attention while leaving Mass at the Benedictine Abbey that Sunday. I was part of a large crowd of students, parents and siblings slowly trying to exit the church. The mass of people came to a sudden, yet brief halt and I found myself standing in front of the Confession box and my attention was drawn to the little girl in front of me who began repeatedly banging on the Confessional door. Her mother quietly and calmly struggled to pull her away, but with determination her daughter’s little feet fluttered right back to the Confessional box and her stout hands once again began pounding on the door. In an attempt to quiet her child and appease her curiosity, the mom reluctantly opened the Confessional door to allow her tenacious daughter to see what was inside. She then she proceeded to shut it, – to which her daughter once again responded by banging on the door.
As I witnessed this ordeal, I couldn’t help but think, is this not the same desire and excitement we are ALL called to have for what lies behind that door? Maybe not literally “banging” on the door, but certainly approaching the Confessional with eager anticipation, having full knowledge of the power of what lies on the other side of that door in the Sacrament of Confession – the incredible graces waiting to be poured out when we enter in and open our hearts. I believe if we truly comprehended how life changing the Sacrament of Confession has the potential to be, we would be just as determined as that little girl to march right back to the Confessional door, confess our sins and receive absolution as often as possible.
Maybe we are not ready for our life to change though? Sometimes we get addicted to our sins and we would rather not let them go for fear of missing out, for fear of the pain we might experience in the healing process of letting go, for fear of having to live a life of freedom and not knowing exactly how that will look or feel, or possibly fear of discovering who we are in light of Our Father in Heaven. We all have fears and yet Our Lord with compassion calls to the Sacrament of Confession so we may let go of all that keeps us from fully being united with Him. He beckons us to, “BE NOT AFRAID,” and to trust in his plan for our lives.
Sin clogs our soul and blinds us to truth. Going to Confession unblocks the flow of grace in our souls and opens our eyes so we can see and seek truth clearly again. Receiving absolution through the Sacrament makes way for God to work in and through us in all the ways that He desires. Sin is also heavy and weighs us down. The more we sin, the heavier the weight becomes. When we go to Confession the weight is taken from us and we are free to move and act with the Holy Spirit as our guide.
In our family we celebrate going to Confession. Why not? We all benefit when even one person in our family seeks reconciliation with God through the Sacrament. Our church offers Confession on Saturday mornings, so we often go out for donuts or ice cream afterwards. A clean soul is worth celebrating! It’s like taking a good shower or bath, but a spiritual one.
I am grateful for the example I witnessed in the innocence of that little girl in Benedictine Abbey. Her unintentional behavior pointed to a deep and profound truth and her simple and playful actions revealed an extraordinary message to those whose hearts that were open to receive the lesson God taught that day through her; a young child -whose was evangelizing and not even aware of the impact her innocent behavior had. The beautiful thing is – we also have the power to evangelize through our daily actions in the pure and innocent state we walk out of the Confessional in, after we have bared our soul and have had our sins forgiven. Being in a state of grace, graces all those we come into contact with. It is a beautiful thing.
About the author:
Kathleen Billings is married to her best friend, a mother of five beautiful blessings and three more souls in Heaven. She has a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Together with her husband, Troy, they began and direct a vibrant parish based Marriage Ministry called BAM – Building Amazing Marriages. Kathleen has a personal blog entitled seasonsoftheheartandhome.com where she writes about living her faith, in every season, as a wife and mother amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She is a regular blogger on marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website and is also a contributing author to the book “Amazing Grace for Mothers.” Kathleen has been an active Catholic speaker for the past 20 years – speaking at days of recollection, retreats for women, retreats for married couples, evenings of reflection and women’s groups.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Billings. Used with permission. All rights reserved.