I’ve made a decision to document my steps towards really living the faith that I have just entered. I know that I can’t just go to Mass and be kosher with Catholicism (can one be kosher and Catholic?). Anyway—since I’ve only been Catholic since Easter there is a lot I still have to learn and experience. I’m terribly interested in how “fully living the faith” will deepen my faith and how it will change my life. I’m letting you know this because It’s a little trick I do to hold myself accountable. This is similar to joining a class where I am expected to be there instead of just using the stair-master at home (poor dusty, laundry draped stair-master).
So what do I mean by “fully living the faith”? I think I mean practicing the sacraments, living out the church’s teachings and traditions and delving into it’s depths but all this could change- fair warning!
First (very obvious) Catholic To Do: Go To Reconciliation!!!
Ah Mel Brooks in High Anxiety echoes how I felt today going to Reconciliation. This was the first time I went to confess my sins as an honest to goodness real Catholic. I had talked so tough after the first time “The Priest was cool- you can use your iPhone… blah blah blah”. Oh how God must like to laugh because this time I was even more anxious. You see, I still had many many things left to confess. I mean I did have 30+ years to account for and I had saved the doozies for last. The doozies included most of the really embarrassing hard to talk about to a man in black kind of sins. This is why it was imperitive I get the “right” confessor. I had gone to great lengths to make sure I would be talking to Father G, who I knew and was comfortable with and who I had confessed to before, even waiting two weeks to make sure.
As I walked into the church I gave myself a little “you can do this” pep talk “You’re good enough! You’re smart enough! And gosh darnit people like you!” (I had, after all, just won an Illuminating Blogger award). Noticing the confession booth was occupied I knelt down to pray and wait. My mind was racing and the best I could do was to repeat “Lord Jesus have mercy on me” over and over again while I breathed in and out in and out. By the way did I mention I have an anxiety disorder? This entire scenario might go quite a bit better for anyone who doesn’t start with that negative.
Eventually the muffled voices became clear and the confessional opened up. O.k. here we go! “Flip flop flip flop” argh how inappropriate for me to wear flip flops! I flip flopped into the confessional and saw familiar black slacks poking out from behind the divider. “Hello Father?” I said as I peeked my head around the divider expecting to see Father G. But it wasn’t Father G… it was the hot Bishop! Immediately I had more to confess as I said to myself “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God- how am I supposed to confess to him? Where is Father G? This guy is a Bishop! He is Intimidating! He is hot! I have to confess some really embarrassing things!” (Let me stop here and say I mean no disrespect by describing the Bishop as hot. I honestly think of it as a very pertinent issue to the faith, learning to move past the physical to the spiritual, and being “hot” can cause somewhat of a barrier).
I sat down and he said “please close the door” ah right that would help us wouldn’t it! My mind blanked so I had to ask him what words I was supposed to say again and he graciously helped me. “Usually you would come in and say bless me father for I have sinned and say how long it has been since your last confession.” Good to know. After that, I pulled out my iPhone and started confessing. I will skip the details here as Reconciliation is a private affair. I do want to say that if you are a fan of Bikram yoga you should try going to Reconciliation. Who knew that a benefit was sweating off a pound or two? Also, like my first time around, in the end confessing was emotionally and spiritually cleansing and when I left I was looking forward to going again. The Bishop had an amazing ability to focus in on some really key points and helped me to understand how to move forward joyfully and positively with God. I really want to make this clear. Confessing my sins has been a positive experience and I have, both times, been left within a joyful new state of grace. Now if I can just learn what an “act of contrition” is, I think I’m good.