Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nearly Fainting During Confession

At the request of Dan (ha! didn't think I'd mention it, did you?), I'm writing about the the most bizarre/tense/scary confession experience I've had in 16-17 years (basically since I first confessed at 8, nearly 9, years old). I'm still feeling a little weird but I'm rational and I've processed it enough to write about it.

I should start by saying that this is the first time I've made the 2 mile walk to and from my home parish by myself. My mother, who is my confession buddy, has been feeling sick since we both got food poisoning last night so I decided to go by myself. I just feel a strong urge to receive the Eucharist tomorrow (probably because I've been deeply moved by the Papal visit to the UK) and I admittedly lost my temper earlier this week when I was left behind at school so I was in need of a good confession. Since I felt better from the food poisoning and felt fine (fit as a fiddle) I decided to make the walk by myself. The walk itself wasn't too bad. I walked a little faster than usual since I do not live in the safest neighborhood but I got my parish feeling okay. I was breathing like I normally do when I exercise and, with the nearly 90 degree weather, I wasn't feeling like a fresh daisy but I was fine. I was able to take my time to do an examination of my conscience before confession since I was the only person in line for the English speakers. Basically, I was fine. I got inside the confessional, greeted the priest, and began my confession. Of course I cannot tell you what I confessed because it was between myself, Fr. Peter, and God but I will say that I was still feeling fine at that point. Once Fr. Peter started talking, everything took an interesting turn.

Now, I've had interesting experiences waiting in line to confess or kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament while praying. Today was the first time I felt that bad during confession. When Fr. Peter began talking to be, after I had confessed, everything was fine. I asked the Lord to please help me understand Fr. Peter since he was a slight accent and I occasionally don't understand a couple of things. All was fine for a minute or two. Suddenly, a slight feeling of faintness come up. It wasn't too bad so I kept trying to focus on what Fr. Peter was saying. As soon as he started asking a question, I felt like I was going to pass out there and then. I answered Fr. Peter's question as well as I could and fell back to sort of sit on my feet while still kneeling. It went away, I felt a little better, and I propped myself back up on the padded kneeler. I only lasted a couple of seconds until I felt worse again. I once again fell back on my feet, shifting my weight off of my knees. Fr. Peter continued speaking about Christ and decisions I had to make when I felt like that was it -- I was going to black out and pass out in the confessional. I felt all this pressure in my head, I started seeing black, I could no longer hear what Fr. Peter was saying... it started scaring me. My heart pounded and I struggled to keep focus as my thoughts raced a mile a minute. I tried my hardest to keep paying as much attention as possible but everything started to become a big blur. Once again, I sat on my feet until the moment passed. Fr. Peter asked me an important question about what would happen when I was in front of Jesus Christ on Judgment Day, and as soon I answered it, with resolution because I do love God more than anything, I felt like I was going to pass out again. I mentally offered up what was happening to me for the souls in purgatory. I propped up myself one final time and tried to focus on what Fr. Peter said. I was about to faint again when Fr. Peter gave me my penance (which I barely registered, I was feeling so bad) and absolved me from my sins. I thanked him, wished him a good weekend and left.

The entire time I was in the confessional I had inner struggles. I had this moment where I felt like a voice inside of me was going "get out! get out! just leave!" but I refused to. I had a lot of questions racing through my mind. Should I walk from behind the curtain and sit in front of him for the remainder of my time in there or should I just tough it out? Should I mention I felt faint or should I just suffer in silence? Should I asked a fellow parishioner to please let me use their phone, as I had forgotten my cell phone back at home, to let my mom know that I wasn't feeling well? In the end I decided to keep quiet, trust that I was in God's hands, and follow through with my penance. I paid as much attention to Fr. Peter as I could in that situation and did what was asked of me. As soon as I sat down in the pew in the back of the Church I felt a bit better. Before I left, and made the walk back home, I briefly knelt in front of the tabernacle and asked God to please help me make it back home without any more problems and said a quick prayer. I got home okay even though I was a little scared about taking the shady shortcuts where there aren't a lot of people. I just felt like my stomach had a lot of acid in it and now (2 hours after everything happened) I just have this crummy headache. Otherwise, I'm solid.

I've felt a little dizzy or faint while kneeling in Mass before but those were usually anxiety symptoms or because I'd fasted (I've learned I cannot fast). I didn't have anxiety, I'd eaten and had been hydrating myself (even while walking) so I don't see an obvious medical explanation for what happened. I haven't felt dizzy while kneeling in over a year, too. The last time I remember feeling remotely ill while kneeling was when my dad was still alive and had taken me to Mass. As soon as I told my mom what had happened she said "It was the horned one. He does not want to have you there." (side note: I have been having bad experiences since I started the 54 day Rosary novena (day 8 today) but it's lessening as the days go by. I refuse to stop the novena.) Whether she is right or not, God only knows. I will say that I saw it as a learning experience and a way of showing that I really do trust God and that I've honestly put my life in His hands. It's so easy to say that you will do His will but it's much easier to ask Him to take away the obstacles you can't handle.

Intense, bizarre, and a little scary... but I do not regret going to confession. As I told Fr. Peter before I began my confession, I have a desire to confess my sins so that I may receive the Eucharist tomorrow. Not only that, you never know when you're going to be called to Heaven and I want to spend the rest of eternity with God so frequent confession is a must.

So, there you have it, Dan. lol. Seriously though, I'm interested in finding out if anyone else has had a similar experience or if I'm the only one that has weird experiences like this.

Alright, well, I want to get some sleep so I can watch the Beatification of Cardinal Cardinal John Henry Newman which is airing live at 1:30 a.m. PST. :)

I hope y'all are having and/or will have a great weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!


Philangelus said...

The only times I've come close to fainting were during the sign of Peace....when I've been pregnant. I'm not suggesting you're pregnant, but in my case, it was a combination of lowered blood pressure and kneeling. For some reason, kneeling interrupted the circulation in such a way that after I stood up again, I had about three minutes before my vision would black out and I'd have to sit down or else I'd fall down.

Before I'd look for a supernatural explanation, I'd suggest looking for a natural one. Up your salt intake before the next time you take the walk to church, and drink more water. :-) Maybe check your blood pressure if you find a place that has a cuff.

(Note: after I stopped kneeling during the consecration--just hunching forward on the seat in a half-kneel, one knee down and one up) I stopped passing out during the Sign of Peace. And once I gave birth, of course, I could kneel again with no problem.)

Emmy Cecilia said...

I do suffer from low blood pressure so I do try to drink as much water as I can during the day. I take pretty good care of myself so I didn't understand why I felt so weak. I've walked to confession almost every time I've gone since my father died (even in hotter conditions without drinking water) and I've never had that issue. Perhaps it was the fact that I walked a bit faster than usual and that I got to the parish sweating more than I normally do. As I said, I've felt faint while kneeling before but never during confession.

I am not at all saying it was a supernatural thing, my mother thought it was. I don't like jumping to conclusions without looking at all other explanations.

Philangelus said...

Remember that you also had food poisoning the night before, which might have left you a little dehydrated and weak to start with. Maybe you're usually on the right side of the line but this time you weren't.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Yup, also thought of that as well. I had felt fine all day and felt fine during the 2 mile walk which is what I usually can't handle after I'm sick because my weakness usually manifests itself in my legs. No real weak feeling until I knelt down. Maybe there's some connection there. I'm no doctor so I can't really say because I don't know what and what does not cause weakness and fainting. :)