Penance

In college, several of my friends would ask me why I am a Christian, and my answer has always been that I believe in God’s love and mercy for humanity and that I desire to spread this good news through my actions and in how I treat other people.  His unconditional love cannot be fully understood or appreciated, let alone mirrored by me or any one of us.  However, this ideal is inspiring, and I consider it a privilege to work toward this for my entire life.  Toward the end of college, a series of unique and challenging life experiences as well as further reading of some thoughtful works of literature allowed me to more fully embody this calling and seek the holy sacrament of Confirmation.

I immediately think of the perhaps trite but nevertheless beautiful verse from 1 Corinthians: Love is patient, love is kind…it keeps no record of wrongslove never fails.  I have found that I am incredibly susceptible to feeling guilty about the slightest transgression, and sometimes even a perceived transgression with no real sin committed.  This guilt readily turns into fear of the act of reconciliation.  However, the parable of the prodigal’s son—in which the father unconditionally welcomes his son who had previously “betrayed” him—re-inspires hope in the renewal of my relationship with God.  My parents, who have always dealt me tough love, reflect this same sort of affection for me.  Although they and I are not perfect, in the end, we are one together in a family, and I rest in faith with their forever open arms.

While I have only received the sacrament a handful of times since Baptism, each time I visit a spiritual director my humility deepens as I recognize more and more the profundity of God’s love and how it is greater than my ability to sin.  We should most certainly seek to pray and ask for forgiveness on our own more often.  Yet going to Confession is virtuous through the physical demonstration of seeking a rebirth in Christ’s love.  The sacrament is one way that we as humans may participate in the journey of glorifying God and share the opportunity to embrace God’s love with our community.

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