I am proud to say I’m a convert to Catholicism, baptized in 2006. My RCIA journey was amazing, and each class drew me closer to a God I had never known.
When giving testimony at pro-life events, I always share my baptismal experience. I was told the waters of baptism would wash away past sins, but I was scared to death. Being fifty-three years old with a colorful past, I envisioned the water boiling due to the amount of sin I carried. Of course, the water remained cool, but because of my past, I didn’t feel cleansed.
I spoke to my sponsor after Easter Vigil and she suggested I make an appointment with our priest to make a general confession. Well, that was scarier yet! Once I was “found out”, I would surely be the quickest ex-communicant in Catholic history.
I justified delaying the inevitable by telling myself, “God knows what I did wrong, I already apologized to Him and He knows I’m sorry.” Then a little voice in my head would say, “Patti, if that were the case, why do you still feel unclean?” It had taken several arguments with that little voice before I made the appointment.
Walking into Father’s office, I was shaking and tears started falling before I even sat down. He handed me a box of tissues and smiled kindly. I was sure that kind look would disappear once I started talking. It didn’t. He listened, patted my hand, and even smiled from time to time. After a while, I realized I wasn’t going to be escorted out of the office and something miraculous happened: The shame was slowly going away and I stopped avoiding the “really bad stuff”. I closed my eyes as I continued and sensed it wasn’t the priest holding my hand anymore, it was Jesus.
By the time my confession was over, I was emotionally drained and exhausted, but felt energized within. The weight of shame and remorse had been lifted, and for the first time in decades, I was at peace and knew I would finally feel deserving of receiving the Eucharist. I wish I could bottle the serenity I felt and share it with the world, but since I can’t … I’ll share by words instead.
Some may avoid or dread the sacrament of reconciliation, considering it something they “have to do.” I am not one of them. Until I actually verbalize my transgressions and ask for forgiveness, they darken my soul. They are a detour on my beautiful faith journey that distances me from God and experiencing His love and mercy.