The Catholic Order of Things
Once upon a time, I craved Holy Communion. Now, I don’t mind being the ONLY PERSON IN THE CHURCH who doesn’t go up to receive the true Body and Blood of our savior each mass. In fact, I’m kind of proud of that. While there’s nothing honorable about being the only person in the church in a state of mortal sin (there’s hell to pay), but there is some honor, I think, in being the only one, at least at Daily Mass, to admit it. If it be God’s will, then His grace will soon correct that.
It has been 20 years since my last confession. My state is so screwed up, I can’t even go to confession. That really, really gets to me these days. I dread having to tell another human, not to mention God Himself, all the horrible things, the vicious things, I have accomplished of 20 years of hedonism. I recoil at reminding even myself.
Still, I crave the sanctity, the perfection, of the confessional. I crave hearing those sacred words, “I absolve you of these and all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Go and sin no more.”
I suppose many fallen-away and returning Catholics have this feeling: I go to confession. (It takes a very long time, and I break down and cry.) I leave the confessional for the Mass–the good old Tridentine Mass in Latin with incense and bells and the priest facing the Tree of Life and women in veils and men in ties and majesty, reverence, and devotion throughout.
I see myself as if from a camera in the choir loft. (Heavenly Father, restore the choir loft in every church throughout the world). I work my way up the nave to the communion rail. I kneel.
“Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam.” (Translated: May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting.) (My Lord and my God! I think.) “Amen,” I say.
I am now back in my pew with the beautiful Angela.
Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo. Ite, Missa est. Deo gratias.
Emerging, then, from the universal brightness of His presence to the physical light of the sun, I find myself mysteriously before the Lord. I don’t know how I died, or why. I guess it doesn’t matter. Somehow, the Blessed Mother has led me by the hand into Christ’s church, into the confessional, up to the communion rail, and into her Son’s hallowed and waiting arms. I am received like the hockey player who scored the game winning goal in overtime of game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals (a fantasy I’ve had since about the age of four when the St. Louis Blues came into existence) to some infinite degree, not for my glory, but for His. What He did on the cross worked–at least for the one sheep that had wandered from the herd.
(Of couse, I’m then purged in a particularly unique and painful way for many millenia, so I beg you to pray for the expiation of my sins. And I hope against hope that St. Faustina takes a particular liking to me.)
That’s why I crave confession: I have done much wrong, and He deserves to know my sorrow. And I would no more receive His Body and Blood outside a state of grace than I would use the American flag for toilet paper. While the latter would be mere impropriety, the former would a sacrilege of the highest order–which is precisely why I don’t mind standing fast during communion.
UPDATE: RomanCatholicBlog on World Youth confessions and the need for more.
And that reminds me:
This priest is hearing confessions. A guy tells him, “Father, I’m eighty-three years old. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for fifty-six years. She’s a saint, really. But yesterday, I came out of the drug store, picking up her prescriptions, and in the street in front of the store was a convertible with two young, beautiful women in it. They’re college students. One of them said, ‘Hey, old man; wanna go for a ride?’ I said, ‘Why not?’ and got in the car.
“They asked me if I wanted a beer, and said, ‘What the hell? Why not?’ Then they asked me if I’d ever smoked pot. I said no, so they asked if I wanted to. I figured, ‘Hell, I’ve gone this far.’ So I smoked some pot with them. Then they took me back to their apartment and we did unspeakable things for three hours. Then, well, they took me home.”
The priest said a silent prayer, then asked, “My son, are you sorry for your sins?”
“Sorry? Hell no!” the old man said.
“No?” shouted the priest. “What kind of a Catholic are you?”
“I’m not a Catholic,” the old man shouted back. “I’m Jewish.”
“Then why did you tell me all that about yourself?”
“I’m telling everybody!”