I arrived early. The church smelled good; the cleaning people were just leaving. There were fresh flowers. The First Reconciliation certificates were in the folder.
All that was needed was the list of penitents and the order in which they would see Father. At the last parent meeting I’d had everyone draw numbers for the sequence in which their child would receive the sacrament. Now I only needed to type up the list from the numbers. It took a few minutes. I printed it out, put it on a clip board and brought it out to our Narthex along with a freshly sharpened pencil.
Everything was ready for the children to sign in when they arrived.
One concerned little girl and her mother came early as arranged so that she could ‘practice’ one more time.
More families began arriving. The Narthex filled and was abuzz with excited chatter. Finally Father showed up and I asked his help with adjusting the volume for the background music which would be playing in the main church while the parents waited. Our confessional is off our daily Mass Chapel. One child would be in with Father and one more child would be waiting with the First Communion teacher in the Chapel at all times.
Everything went like clockwork. Everyone showed up—more or less on time—and even those who were a little late didn’t matter. The only glitch, an overlooked certificate, ended up being no problem at all. The mother was relieved when I apologized and said, “Is that all? I was afraid it was something serious.” And the little girl didn’t realize she was the only one in her class not to get a certificate because she was first and left before the other children—beaming. I’ll have her certificate by Monday when she returns to school.
So now that everything is over, why am I sad? The children came to Jesus in this wonderful sacrament. I did all that I could to facilitate the process. It was a joyful day and the occasion went well.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just simple let down. Maybe it’s just me being selfish and not liking to see things end. But maybe it’s something else...
Sometimes I think it’s because on days like this, when so many people—especially so many young people—celebrate a sacrament together, we come so close to Jesus, to the amazing, transforming power of His Grace and then, we just have to go back to normal life again. We were so close to Him, so near Heaven, we could almost peak inside the door, but it slammed shut again disappearing without a trace.
He was there today. I saw nervous children going to their First Confession; He met His little sheep coming to be forgiven. I saw shining, smiling faces emerge from the chapel; He made their souls white as snow again. Thank You Lord Jesus for this wonderful day; may my sorrow now remind me to guard my thoughts, words and actions so that I may please you in all things.
I look forward to the day when I can see Your Beautiful Face shining back at me. I pray You forgive me my sins as well.