So Older Girl is back to her sinless baptismal state (at least until the morrow . . .) and we have all survived the First Reconciliation. Older Girl goes to a regional Catholic school comprised of three feeder parishes, and our parish, Holy Trinity, was first up at bat for the sacraments.
The evening was interesting to me in so many ways. I will be the first to admit that, while I was growing up, I was never a huge fan of confession, and I always looked askance at the people who said they loved going to confession. Because I always focused on the failure and the sin part, and not on the whole point of the sacrament, which is that God loves me anyway and wants to forgive me. I missed out on the joy, the love, the relief that is the heart of confession. I still get a little nervous for confession -- like maybe there will be that one time that I will have Gone Too Far, even though I know in my heart that time won't come if I am truly sorry and I resolve to change.
And tonight I saw that my daughter -- my feisty, funny, bossy, sometimes mouthy, always good-hearted daughter -- is just like me. There were three priests up in the front of church, and the children went face to face. Since Older Girl was in the last row, I watched the other children take their turns. They slowly sat down, and the priests would smile, so kindly, and they would begin to lead them in the sacrament. The tenderness in the church was palpable, most of the children spent their confession nodding or smiling, and they were all followed by a hand shake or a pat on the back.
I watched as Older Girl got our pastor as her confessor, and I watched as she mounted the steps towards the altar, where he was seated. And I noticed the odd angle of her shoulders, the deliberate slowness of her gait, and the nervous chewing of her nails (nails which have never been allowed to grow since she has sprouted teeth). She was afraid! Oh God, I prayed, please calm my girl's heart, and let her know that You love her even if she does something wrong. Please give her the grace to do what is right and good. I watched her sit down behind the altar and start to talk and then I saw Father reach over and take her hand and I saw her shoulders wobbling. She was crying. She was crying in confession, just like her mother. It's true, I cry every time. It is such a release for me. I guess some things breed true.
Older Girl talked for a long time -- six other children went and made their confessions in the time it took her to finish hers, but she came down the altar smiling and she gave me the thumbs up sign. I knew exactly how she felt.
I can't believe that now I have a daughter that goes to confession, and not just that, but our pastor used to be one of my high school teachers, and occasional confessor. I guess we have come full circle -- he is hearing my child's confession like he once heard mine, and he is passing her the tissues as well.