Tonight was our parish’s Communal Penance Service. There was no Mass, but there was music and contemplation and an opportunity for individual reconciliation. In addition to our pastor, there were four other priests hearing confessions and absolving. While we’re waiting our turn, the lights are dimmed and our music director plays several hymns on the organ. There is time to think and meditate on our sins and our transgressions.

When it was my turn my priest took my hands in his, and said my name. I’m still only comfortable going to my own priest, although the whole process of contrition can be quite nerve-wracking for me; it’s still new to me. His eyes are both serious and twinkly. He has such a good soul, a kind soul; it radiates outward and is such a comfort. I got very lucky when I wandered into this church three years ago. Someone (clearly) was watching out for me.

I expressed my regret and sorrow for my sins. I named two specific ones, and at the moment that his hand touched my forehead, his open palm on my head, his words on my heart; when he says that I am absolved, I can feel the weight lift. It is a weight that I don’t realize I’ve been carrying until it is gone.

I think I am finally ready for Easter. I’ve gotten through this first year as a Catholic (a reflection for a later time), Good Friday is approaching and the Lenten season is coming to a close. I’ve been trying to use these daily reflections to show myself how much I really do meditate on the words of my life, not only the Scriptures but all the words of my life.

Penance is part of those meditations, and contemplations, and absolutions, and forgiveness.

It is also a reminder that I am somebody even if I’m still trying to figure out who that somebody is.

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