Grace Through Reconciliation

illustration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation © Loyola Press. All rights reserved.

My heart feels heavy. My feet will not stay on the right path for long. Tired of stumbling, I call a Christian friend for advice. Telling her everything and loosening the burden feels good, yet restlessness fills my heart, and the peace that I am longing for isn’t there. Something is missing.

I bring my troubles to God. I have known his grace and mercy before and want a clean slate to begin again. God listens. His forgiveness is swift and absolute, yet the road ahead of me is filled with the same stumbling stones as before, and I am afraid. As I long for something more, the Sacrament of Reconciliation entices my thoughts. I know that the sacraments are treasures in the Church and mysteries that bring forth Christ’s power, but my heart isn’t sure, so I am still reluctant. My fear creates a thousand excuses in my mind, yet I cannot be free of this desire.

Eventually, my hunger for God’s grace weighs more than my pride or fear. I trudge into a church and see the priest setting up for a meeting. I ask him to hear my confession.

We sit down, and he kisses his stole and puts it on. I close my eyes for a second and wonder if it is possible that he can take the place of Christ now, when minutes before he was worrying about finding a room for a meeting, and I wonder what God thinks of my judgmental attitude about his servant. Did Jesus expect this sacrament to mean the same today as it did when he sent the Apostles out to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins? If only John or Peter were here, I think, but deep down, I am afraid that if they were here, I wouldn’t think them worthy enough to hear my sins either.

I wonder how this man will be able to understand a woman’s heart and a mother’s mind. Does he know that I am burdened and sinful? Has he ever lost his patience studying for a social studies test or forgotten to buy dog food? Does he know that he controls the ease or difficulty in which I will return and encourage my husband and children to join me?

Quickly blurting out my sins, leaving no room for interpretation, I end with, “I just need God’s grace.” Uttering an act of contrition, mumbling past the forgotten parts, I look up purposefully so the priest knows I am finished.

He silently places his hands on my head and prays, “May God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The banter in my head is silenced. My mind pauses to understand the ease in which this forgiveness pours out. The pardon and peace I crave are here. I blink away tears as I realize that when I opened my heart, bad attitude and all, God poured out grace, and I know that I met Jesus in this sacrament.

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Theresa Brotherton
Theresa Brotherton is a freelance writer and speaker. She has a BA in special education and elementary education and is a certified CRE. She has served as a children’s religion teacher and has published two books about finding God in all things: Life in God’s Fast Lane and An Ordinary Life. She lives in St. Louis, MO, with her husband, four grown children, and three grandsons. She seeks to live the Jesuit teaching of living a life of service and compassion for others.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Dear theresa,

    totally an unique article on this website i like to turn to, for encouragement. Best wishes in your mission Theresa, and to all who read this too.

  2. We are fortunate to have a lovely elderly priest at one of our parishes. I have only been to him a couple of times but I have been upfront about things in my life to him.

    The next time I saw him, I told him that I really felt like He was the “Prodigal Father” in Confession and he said “he hoped so.

    It is so wonderful that one can feel like skipping after confession and so fortunate if the priests we encounter are approachable.

  3. Theresa, thank you for touching so eloquently on a sacrament that troubles many. Beautifully said.

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