Returned to confession and Mass yesterday for the first time in roughly 6 months.
The priest gently chided me for letting my anger at all the divisiveness in the Church keep me from the sacraments: “This [division] has been going on for thousands of years,” he said. Or something like that. But he didn’t flinch as I went on, even when I admitted that I had pounded down a chicken leg on Friday just out of spite, I was so angry.
He asked if I had at least been praying, and I admitted only with my kid at bedtime – beyond that, not even so much as a morning offering. “Why, even second-graders do that!” he said. I could tell he said it with a smile (even behind the curtain), but it still stung.
Fr. L., the guy I usually turn to for confession, was a little tougher on me than usual at first, but I didn’t mind. He spent a little more time advising me this time around, and I appreciated that. With Pentecost coming up, he advised me to ask the Holy Spirit to lead me in a fresh start, gave me my penance, and sent me on my way.
My takeaway was that I can’t let annoying people and Church politics get in the way of prayer and my relationship with God. Fr. L. is particularly insistent on people maintaining a regular prayer life as much as possible, and he’s absolutely right to be insistent. And I’m grateful for that.
I”m still annoyed at the divisions and failures of the Church; reading this piece just now by a priest who was kicked out of seminary for being Black doesn’t help my anger. But, as Fr. Bruce Wilkinson writes of his experience:
After I worked through some of my anger and sadness in reflection and prayer, though, I realized something important: I was not going to allow other people’s hatred to control my life.
Why? Fr. Bruce makes it clear at the end: “I couldn’t help being in love with God, and God wouldn’t let me go.”
God doesn’t let go, no matter how livid you are with the Church, His people, and sometimes even Him. And I’m grateful for that, too.