Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Heart is Bursting with Joy!

"Oh no," I sighed as I looked at my mom. "I'm starting to feel sick... and the physical pains are worsening. My back and my legs are starting to hurt and cramp up."
"Do you want us to stay home?" she asked.
"No. I'll just take generic Tylenol and an extra water bottle in case I need them. We have to go..."

That's how our trip to a local parish for Mass and confession began. Two months was enough... I needed to go to Mass and confession. I've been feeling physically off for most of this past week -- falling asleep often and having weird physical pains -- but I was determined to go. After reading The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher and starting Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales this week, I felt even more courage than usual to, at least, attempt the drive.

"Let's try for confession and we'll stay for Mass if I feel okay," I told Mom.

We got in line half an hour later than usual and there a couple of people in front of us. The priest was running late and we would only have half an hour before confession time ended. I thought there wouldn't be enough time for all of us to get into the confessional, especially since we were last in line. "It's okay," I reminded myself. "At least I'm here and I'm trying."

As we waited for the priest to show up, the youngest daughter of the woman in front of us (in line) came to my pew (we all sat in pews while we waited) and gave me the biggest smile. She was maybe 2 years old. She would go back to her Mom and would wander around the church with a sibling trailing after her but she came back to my pew with the biggest smile a couple more times before her family left. There was something reflecting from her little face that struck me. It was a sense of overwhelming joy. I even thought to myself "it's almost as I'm seeing God's happiness through her little face; as if He were showing me that He's happy that I'm here."

Since I had a long list of things to confess -- things I had somehow remembered from my years away from the Church; big things that I don't think I ever confessed but needed to from when I was 18-20 years old -- I had everyone in line go before me. Though I knew there was a chance I wouldn't go in but I didn't want them to miss out because of the time I might be in the confessional.

I obviously won't say what I confessed nor what the priest said but let's just say that I wept. I cried because I felt the weight and the shame of my sins and then I cried thinking about God's love and mercy and how I had been forgiven, unworthy as I may be. The priest said something things that I could've easily imagined God saying to me through Him. Fear would be defeated and replaced by courage and trust, both gifts from God.

Though it wasn't our preferred Latin Mass, we still stayed for the Saturday Vigil Mass in case we can't make it to Latin Mass tomorrow. Yes, I'm going to try to go to that Mass as well. Oh, what a gift of tears I was given; I couldn't stop myself from tearing up during Mass. In the middle of the tears, I had an interesting observation and thought pop into my mind. As I looked up at the crucifix at the altar, I noticed how pale crucified Christ looked in comparison to all the other saint statues around the parish. The thought "He looks just like me; pale and weak. Yet it is through our weakness that we find strength" came into my mind, completely unprompted, and it surprised me. It's something I will ponder the rest of this weekend.

Though I wasn't able to receive the Eucharist (the last time I tried a regular gluten host, I was in physical pain for about a week or two; I have to wait to go to Latin Mass where they give low-gluten hosts for Celiacs), I made an act of spiritual communion in the pew while Mom went to receive the Eucharist. Cue more tears. lol.

My heart is bursting with joy! I'm grateful for the chance to go to confession and Mass. I'm grateful for the friends who prayed that I would go to Mass... and prayed that I would make it through both this evening. I'm grateful for the gift of courage that I was given, despite being in actual physical pain as we were leaving the house. I'm grateful that I felt well enough to make it through both confession and Mass, though I felt a bit off in line and then broke out in a sweat that made me feel like I was weak and being slightly suffocated prior to receiving absolution for my sins.

I don't think I'll ever be able to attend Mass or confession the same again. In a weird way, I'm grateful that I didn't go to Mass or confession for those two months because it made me appreciate the beauty of the sacrament and Mass in a way that I had forgotten. I'll never take either of them for granted again.

Anyway, that's it for now. I have a couple more lecture videos and some reviewing to do before I attempt this week's exam. The exam is due on Tuesday but I hope to do it either tonight or tomorrow night so I can finish my research paper (which due on Friday) on time as well. :)

I hope you all have a blessed Laetare Sunday tomorrow (or today if you're in Europe or read this on Sunday). :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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