For one mum, the repeated efforts to get to Confession were worth all the intervening frustrations.
I went to confession today and for me, it is such a big deal that I decided to write about it. Why? Because, well… as a mum I am not as free as others to just grab my keys, say goodbye and head up to church.
Far out! For me to go to confession I need to book an appointment and start the process of structuring the logistics of leaving the kids settled, fed and bathed… also making sure my husband doesn’t have previous commitments and reminding him every day starting three days prior to my appointment to make sure he doesn’t make new plans… hoping he doesn’t say: “I didn’t know you were going on Friday, I thought it was Saturday…”
Over a year and a half ago I tried twice to go to this church near my house on the time I know there is Confession. Logistically everything was set but there was a minor issue at the last minute with the kids – tantrum from one of them – which held me back for a couple of minutes. But still, encouraged by my husband’s “Go, I have everything under control,” I head up to church.
I drove nervously trying to recall my sins quickly in my head while I tried to find parking. Extra few minutes and I made it. Aaaaahhh, finally… I went inside the Church, I dipped my hand into some Holy Water, genuflected, internally smiled and headed up to the line… which, ummmm, was a bit long considering there was a Mass starting in 15 minutes.
Fifteen minutes passed and the Priest advised us he couldn’t do any more confessions due to the coming Mass. I understood. A few people in front who also didn’t make it had sadness reflected in their eyes, but we all left.
Weeks after, still in need to go to Confession, I tried again. Logistics set up. Same church, same time. I drove there on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday, excited, thinking I would participate in all the Easter Celebrations…
Well, not so much… Went there and there was like three people. Awesome! This time I’ll make it!… But, a lady approached us saying that unfortunately there weren’t confessions on that day and that it was announced on Sunday Mass…
I felt a heaviness in my heart that soon transformed between sadness and anger. “I swear, God, I’m trying!!!!” I screamed in my heart.
While I was walking to my car, a lovely lady was talking to me trying to make me feel better. I think my face reflected a lot of my feelings. I told her that it was so hard for me to get out of the house, having little ones to come to church and find a second rejection. She smiled lovingly saying: “It’s ok, God knows”…
Another lady suggested another church nearby that hears Confessions at 10am. So when I arrived home, after crying in frustration in front of my husband, he decided we were all going at 10am… so we put the kids in the car and headed up there… finding that the church cancelled Confessions that day too. Agggh!
After that, well, I didn’t bother much anymore. I found out I was pregnant with my third child. Winter passed, summer came, I started to get heavier and heavier… Christmas came and passed… the Australian haze from bushfires came and passed too… I gave birth… and then COVID-19 appeared, which meant no church AT ALL, especially with a newborn.
My third child is now eight months old. A few weeks ago, I was talking to my sister-in-law when she found out that I still hadn’t been to Confession (she knew about my attempts) so she made her mission to take me to a church she goes often (not the ones I already visited). She found out the times and I arranged all the logistics to be free at 7.30pm.
But, of course, that day everything went the way I did not plan it: My toddlers overslept their naps, my baby was unsettled so I couldn’t finish washing the dishes from dinner, tantrums here and there, etc… I was so stressed out that on two occasions I grabbed my phone to text my sister-in-law and ask her to cancel the plans… but I didn’t.
Every time I grabbed my phone, I had this feeling in my heart that the devil was doing all this, tripping me up, triggering my kids, turning on my stress, anger and anxieties… I knew it. So I prayed a quick prayer to St. Michael and told the devil: “You won’t stop me”… and kept going with the bedtime routine.
So, at 7.30pm, I was with my sister-in-law, in the car, heading to church…
Free at last. Girls night out with God. Yes!
I stared at that door that said “Confession”… mentally recounting my sins… and trying hard to remember them all but that was definitely impossible. Looking at that door I felt that sinking feeling of embarrassment that usually you have when you go to Confession, but it is the last attempt by the devil to make you fail and head back home without the grace of God. Good that I wasn’t driving!
So the door opened and it was my turn.
Dear Mum (or Dad) that follows me – this could have been you because this could be the story of all of us.
This pandemic is being used by the devil to break that last little connection with God that, as a mum, is already fragile due to the multiple occupations and tasks of each day by placing even more limitations on the freedom of going to Church.
Mums, walk that extra mile. Do it over and over again. Structure your logistics as many times as necessary so that you can make it because you have to make it.
The Grace of God that fills up your heart and soul after a Confession has no comparison. God’s grace:
Makes your burdens lighter.
Makes your days brighter.
Makes your sleepless nights an offering.
Makes your anxieties things to be cast away.
Makes your sadness go away.
Makes your heart be at peace,
with the peace of God.
When you clean your house, you have to clean every space of it. If you miss one spot because it is in the corner behind the heavy furniture, one time nothing will happen. But if you neglect to move that heavy furniture for over a year, you know the dust accumulated there would be tremendous. So because you know, you need more motivation to do the task, which somehow becomes heavier and heavier even though the furniture wasn’t that heavy to begin with.
That’s Confession. You can go to church every Sunday. You can watch Mass online every day. You can pray the Rosary and talk about God and Jesus to every human you know. BUT if you don’t go to Confession, a corner in your heart starts accumulating a special dust that can only be washed out by the breath of the Grace of God.
After my confession, I “felt like I had wings”(1). I felt like I had wings because my legs and my back were not carrying the burdens anymore, I was literally giving them to God who is carrying them for me. That is what a friend does. And in all that time without Confession, I lost track of that friendship. I felt the judgement of God even in the smallest mistakes and forgot about His love and mercy.
But after Confession, I remembered something valuable: God is a friend. My friend and your friend. That friend that never goes away but that it is us who turns our backs to Him. He doesn’t change. And after Confession, I remembered that, because God’s Grace was back in my heart…
All that, just because I went to confession today…
I encourage you: GO!
Liza Abouharb, based in Sydney, blogs at maronitemum.com
Reproduced with permission from The Catholic Weekly, the news publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.