Tiber Jumper marks another milestone today. Today marks the third anniversary of our return to the Catholic Church. On April 3oth, 2004, Prodigal Daughter and I Crossed the Tiber.
We went to confession that day for the first time in over thirty years and I shared more than thirty years of sins to the priest. As I heard the words of absolution "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen" The tears started down my cheeks. It was as if Jesus was saying those words in my ear. I was forgiven for my sins and I had to now receive my penance.
Remember when Jesus told us in the Gospels that we need to make restitution for our sins? That's what Catholics called Penance. It is not working to be forgiven (He already does that in absolution where he gives the Church power to forgive sins in Jn 21) but it is performing an action (work) egads! that makes satisfaction for the temporal consequences of our behavior. My penance was not 3 Hail Mary's and an Our Father. My confessor told me to daily take the opportunity to share with others what Jesus has done for me. Wow! Talk about an appropriate penance ! Strangely enough, I have been given an opportunity almost daily since then to do just that. (And I'm not even referring to this blog)
We then went into the Chapel to begin Mass. But before receiving the Eucharist, our marriage had to be con-validated since we were technically considered lapsed Catholics who married outside the Church. The week before this, I was bristling at the thought that our marriage was somehow not valid, and was angry at this "know-it-all-priest" for telling me that! The amazing thing is that during or after confession, those thoughts melted away and I felt very grateful for this priest who was willing to discharge his duties in complete conformity with the teachings of the Church. My pride was hurt as I didn't want to think of myself as rebellious, but the truth was that when I walked out of that Church so many years ago, I was rebelling against the plan God had for me. This was truly a conversion for me because, by the grace of God, I had a lot of pride about being a devout Christian (in my eyes) and submitting to the Catholic Church was a major step. (My conversion in this area continues even now, as you see when I get my bristles up in some of these blog comments)
Then the moment came that I still choke up about three years later when I talk about it.
The priest held out the Eucharist to me and said "The Body of Christ." I said Amen (It is true) and opened my mouth and received Christ Jesus physically for the first time in over 35 years. As I knelt and prayed in the pew and wept again, I could hear the Lord saying to me: "This is what you have always been looking for. " At that moment, I knew that I had come home and know that I will never leave again. To God be all the Glory.