Last week, in my post about Fr. Larry Richards, I told a part of my story returning to mass – inspired by my girlfriend (now wife), and led by Catholic Radio on our local Baraga Radio Network, as well as Fr. Larry.
This week, I’d like to talk a little more about the actual journey back to the sacraments, and what I discovered along the way. The sacraments have been so vital to me, and really helped when last year at age 35, I lost a job for the first time. There was an emotional and spiritual component, greatly healed by a sacramental life.
What can I say? My wife was right. After my encounter with Catholic Radio, and Fr. Larry I continued to digest programming daily, between the radio shows, and Lighthouse Catholic Media CDs (found at a great price from kiosks in parishes). The influence led me to adoration. Just a few minutes here an there at first. I felt too busy to go to a whole hour, but could spare 10 minutes before or after work. Pretty generous to spare a few minutes for the God of the universe huh?
My adoration habit grew. It changes you. I discovered that 10 minutes a day, seven days a week ends up at more than an hour. Sometimes God just needs the smallest crack… the smallest invitation.
The next thing you know, I’d been given the grace and courage to make my first confession in years. I was a little apprehensive at first. Surely some of my sins are just unforgivable. The truth was I found the priest was very gentle. I said “Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been years since my last confession, and I might need a little help walking through it”.
While the usual practice for listing sins within confession is number and kind (of sins), in the case of a returning penitent, it’s acceptable to not know how many times. I can tell them that “I did this many times over the years”. I’m not trying to be deceptive, but can confess it without knowing exactly how many. I can also forget sins. I do it every time I go in to confession. But I don’t do it on purpose. The absolution covers them too, and the next time I recall them, I just mention them at confession.
So get to confession (you can schedule a private one with a priest by the way), and then – mass. Maybe you need a little low-key at first. I highly recommend a weekday mass. Weekday masses are typically smaller, shorter, quieter (less music/singing). From my experience, they don’t include a collection basket either. But the best part? Everybody attending is there because they want to be there. You’re not going to find people just checking a box, and warming a pew in the hopes of “fire insurance”.
If you follow my path, adoration can give you the courage to return to confession. I attend regularly now. Remember the priest is there to help you – and many would gladly take the time for a confession scheduled privately outside of normal hours, and can definitely walk you through it.