Monday, December 17, 2007

Confession, Questions, and Courage?

I've been thinking about something ever since Sunday.

I was raised Catholic. Until 4th grade, I went to public school and catechism. In 5th grade, we moved states to a school district that wasn't very good and our parents put us in a Catholic school. The church we came from didn't believe in doing some of the sacraments like confession and confirmation until high school to ensure the child was adult enough and committed enough to be making their own decision. The church/school we moved to didn't have the same philosophy and confession was started in the 3rd grade.

I was a shy, quiet child and joined a small class of 18 students. I was the only new student to join the class since 1st grade. I remember how hard and lonely it was for several years until 7th grade when two new students joined. I remember vividly having to go to confession the first time. Since the class had gone through the training and had been doing this since 3rd grade, I think no one thought to help me or tell me what to do. I was scared, but just followed along with what I thought others were doing. I remember after I went into the booth, the father/monseigneur yelled at me. I don't remember why. Probably because I didn't follow the rules or didn't say something I should have because no one had bothered to tell me anything about this. I think I'm traumatized for life by that event. I've never gone to confession since I left that school or willingly gone to confession. When I was forced to go, I remember making up sins because I didn't know what to say. I've thought about going on and off over the years, but never found the time or courage.

On Sunday, in preparation for Christmas, they had in the bulletin a one page flyer titled How To Go To Confession on one side and Examination of Conscience on the other. They are having special times for penance/confessions this week at various churches in the area. It was yesterday for the church I have been going. I seriously thought about overcoming my fear and going. But, I don't think I will. Not only because of the fear and anxiety of my past around this.

I've read and pondered the Examination of Conscience and thought about what sins I would confess if I did go. I'm not really a big "sinner". I mostly don't talk bad about people. Don't take the lords name in vain. Etc. However, the three big sins I came up with are as follows:

1) Premarital sex (although it has been so long ago now that it isn't even funny and the number of sexual partners I have had can be counted on one hand)
2) Not attending mass on a regular basis (actually attend thru high school and college even though my family had stopped going, but stopped after graduating and didn't start attending regularly again until recently with Max)
3) Becoming a mom through assisted reproduction, which my understanding of Catholic law, is a violation and a sin

I'm sure there are probably others, but those were the big ones that I decided I should go and confess. The problem is after you "confess" your sins, you are supposed to say "I am sorry for my sins" or something similar, but the problem is, I'm not sorry. Not about any of them. I would actually like to be having more sex or maybe I should say sex more frequently. Like this decade would be good. I'm attending church more regularly because of Max and because I think it is the right thing to do in raising him, not because I feel a burning desire or need in myself. I do find it much easier to go and feel a part of the community now that I'm a mom. I feel like churches are more set up for families and that it is very hard for a single person to go and participate and feel "community" from a church. Lastly, I just can not accept that using assisted reproduction is wrong or bad. It gave me my son and I hope it will soon give me more children. And, think it is ironic that what some consider so wrong has actually brought me back to the church and the church community so to speak.

I seriously thought about going and "confessing" my sins and then telling the priest my delema in that I know the church things of it as sinful, but that I don't feel sorry for them nor do I think I ever will...and risk getting yelled at in a confessional again. I decided that I do have the courage at this point in my life and I may at some point in the future set up some time with one of the priests to discuss, but now is not the time. Work is too busy (exceeded my personal goal and made it to 28.2% complete tonight) and logistically, it would be too difficult right now. I actually thought that maybe they should set up some "virtual" confessionals where you could call in for your confession, but this is the catholic church we are talking about and tend to be a bit slow in the modernization and change department.

Even though I've decided that the timing isn't right now/this week, I'm keeping this flyer. I may shock myself yet and go one of these days. I don't know why I feel the need. I don't really desire being absolved of the sins that I'm not sorry about committing.

Anyway, a lot to do about nothing really, but that's what's been on my mind when I haven't been working and wondering if I'm going to be overwhelmed with happiness tomorrow or trying to maintain for the rest of this week through my disappointment to complete and stay focused on the work that just has to get done.

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