Like a lot of Catholic men I know, I wrestle with my past. When I give it license, it tries to eat me alive. If I let it, my past will silence and then destroy me. What do I do? How do I keep the past where it belongs? I run to the fiercest weapon I know – the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A few years ago, life as I knew it imploded. My successful business suddenly crashed, my wife left, my income went from “very substantial” to “desperate” almost overnight; and as if all that weren’t enough, I was diagnosed with a fatal illness. I moved from our beautiful 9,000 square foot dream home in the country (complete with pool, fountains, and even a stable) to a tiny apartment in the city. I went from having two personal assistants to just me and my dog (a faithful yellow lab named Ticket). Talk about “down-sizing”. I thought my life was over. I didn’t think I’d ever recover, and I was absolutely certain my life would never have any meaning or purpose again.
When my world collapsed, I literally had no one to turn to. So, I did the only thing left. I turned to Jesus. And guess what? I found a Savior who was already running down the driveway to meet me. I found sacred arms that wanted nothing more than to embrace me. In short, I found the only One who didn’t care what I had done or what I failed to do. He just loved me. He didn’t “rub my nose in it.” He just loved me. He didn’t lecture me or berate me about my failures. He didn’t care that I had squandered His fortune and slept with the pigs. He just loved me.
I collapsed at His feet. Instead of stepping on my head, and putting me out of my misery, He slowly picked me up, and gently said, “I want you to meet a friend of mine. You can call him Father Baker. I want you to go to confession.”
Confession? Wasn’t that for women and children? I don’t think I knew a single grown man who went to confession with any kind of regularity. I couldn’t even recall the last time I had been. I wasn’t sure I remembered how the rite worked – what to say, what to do. I tried to beg off. I reasoned with the Lord. I said something like (expletives deleted): “Lord, I really don’t want to tell my whole sordid past to some guy who I don’t really know who will probably judge me like crazy. Can’t I just stay here, and I enjoy hanging out with You?”
“No,” He seemed to be the answer. God had more in store for me and His grace kept beckoning me to confession. So, I went.
Now, if you’re a regular recipient of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you know what happened. If you’re not. Let me tell you.
I discovered the greatest truth ever known. In short, I uncovered the quintessential essence of the Gospel. Quite simply, I learned the most valuable lesson any of us will ever learn.
You and I have the right to forget about yesterday. We have the right to start over.
Stop! If you just missed that point, then you’ve missed the whole point of the Cross. Read those words again. No sin of yours is so horrible, that Jesus can’t wash it away. Nothing you have ever done—or failed to do—is so bad that his Sacred Heart will stop forgiving you. No failure of yours is bigger than His love.
How do I know? I’ve lived it. You can trust me on this, and you can trust Him. Don’t hesitate. Run to confession. Call your priest now. Call every day if you have to. If your priest is too busy, don’t take “not now” for an answer. Push back. Be bold. Your eternal soul depends on it. Find a priest, make your confession, and then enjoy the sweetest words ever said in English (or Latin) or any other language:
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give 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.”
Written by: Martin Culpepper
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