Confession is a big deal for Catholics who understand its purpose. It helps us think about sins we have committed, how our sins affect others, and how we can live a better, more Christ-reflective life.
More importantly, confession teaches us about forgiveness, forgiveness for things we have done and forgiveness for things that have been done to us.
And those are messages I want my children to internalize, so I look for ways to bring the gift of confession to them.
And sometimes God helps give us that gift of confession in unexpected ways…
Saturday, we had planned to drive to my 91 year old Grandfather’s house after skiing and spend Sunday with him. Grandpa is an amazing man, a role model to my boys, and a love to all of us. I could write volumes on Grandpa and the countless good things about him,
but there is one MAJOR fault with Grandpa.
He likes the early Mass – and, worse, he likes to be early for the early Mass.
Not that going to Mass is an issue.
But to be early for the early Mass??? Definitely an issue!
After a long day in the outdoors and a late-night, two hour ride to Grandpa’s house, the idea of an early Mass was less than thrilling to any of us. I checked MassTimes.org and told the boys we could go to Mass in the small town where we would be skiing instead.
Unfortunately, we soon discovered the Mass time had been changed and Mass was now being held an hour later.
We talked about what to do and decided to go into the quiet, little church anyway. We would study the week’s Bible readings while sitting in the empty pews. We would pray silently for a bit and later say the Rosary together using Laudate, a Catholic app, while we drove home.
Taking My Boys to Confession
Upon entering the church, I noticed three curtained doors to my right. A light above the middle door told me the the priest was inside waiting to hear confessions. Always one to take advantage of confession with a priest I’d never see again, I decided to receive the gift of confession and told the children I would be right out.
I went into the tiny, pitch black space, said what needed to be said, and was kneeling in a pew to pray when I saw Noah stand up and walk toward the curtained doors.
My boy was making confession on his own – without being told. I again silently thanked the Lord for blessing me with such amazing children!
I was filled with Mama Pride!
Noah pulled back the curtain I had just come from and peered into the tiny darkened space.
“Mom,” he whispered; I looked at him as he questioned, “I go in here?”
He looked incredulous so I nodded encouragingly.
He pulled the curtain back again, stuck his head in just a tiny bit, and pulled it right back out. He whispered again. This time the words sounded a bit more frantic, but I couldn’t quite make them out.
I nodded again, this time with a bit more emphasis and made hand motions shooing him in.
Noah wrinkled his brow but, trustingly, pulled aside the curtain. For fraction of a second he disappeared behind the curtain, but it was only a fraction of a second, and he quickly popped out and looked strangely at me.
Understanding his fear of confession and playing the proud, indulgent Mama, I didn’t wait for him to say more. I stood up with a reassuring smile and went to him.
“It’s okay honey,” I said pushing him inside as I tapped the priest’s window, “Father, my son would like to make his confession too.”
Noah’s head whipped around forcefully; he stared at me wide-eyed as I gently pushed him in the darkened space and shut the curtain behind him.
Just a few moments later, Noah literally bounced out of the confessional and skipped up the aisle toward me grinning from ear-to-ear in the happy-puppy way that only Noah can master. For a brief second I wondered how many people leave the confessional bouncing, skipping, and grinning in such a happy but undignified way.
And I also wondered later if, maybe, just maybe, that’s the way we all should leave behave after leaving confession!
As Noah wrapped his little arms around me in one of his bear hugs, I watched his brothers each stand ready to take their turns in confession too.
Mama Pride spiraled.
I looked back into Noah’s sparkling eyes.
“Thanks Mom!” Noah grinned broadly.
“I’m glad I went to confession,
but I was really looking for the bathroom!“
Fortunately, Noah did not use the confessional as a bathroom (His brothers were quick to question and tease him about that!)
But he did say he had to go really bad
and that he had never made confession standing up
or hopping from one foot to the other before either.
The older boys laughed and said they had gone to confession, in part, because Noah had set a good example and they couldn’t let him outdo them!
Everything is a competition in my house – I wonder if any of my boys confess that! 😉
Confession that day was another reminder to us of God’s ability to use our situations to build His kingdom.
And it was a reminder to me to spend a bit less time swelling with Mama pride and a bit more time listening to my children. 🙂
And it was a reminder to all of us, that when our children don’t know the difference between the confessional and the bathroom…
we need to take them to confession more!
Luckily, we can go to confession and be forgiven – even for not having gone in a while!