Sunday, April 21, 2024
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A visit to the confessional

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Last Sunday was our baby’s estimated due day. The day before, I was waiting in a queue to buy tickets for the girls’ end of year dance concert and thinking about horses (of all things) when the thought popped into my mind that it might be my last chance to go to Reconciliation just because, well, you never know what might happen during childbirth.

I knew a straightforward labour and timely delivery of a healthy baby was the most likely outcome. Just to be sure, I checked.

Fewer than one in 20,000 women die during childbirth in Australia according to government health statistics based on census data, while for babies it’s safer to be born here than even the UK or the US.

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But you never know, and when it comes to a big life event like this one I don’t like to assume things when my immortal soul is at stake. So when the time rolled around, off to ‘reco’ I went – dutifully if not enthusiastically. I ended up being too late, so I sat in the church and prayed Evening Prayer from the Divine Office from my phone.

I remembered with surprise that it had been around five months since my last visit to the confessional, and a long time since I prayed a part of the Office.

I used to be much more scrupulous, probably too much so; painfully aware of my faults and inability to do anything about them. I used to try to get to Reconciliation every month and really felt I needed it month to month. I would reach for my prayer book the moment I woke up in the morning.

Now I realise I’d forgotten all about how that felt, and that it currently feels good to feel less burdened, more accepting of the weaknesses that make me the person I am. I’m not so tortured about the ways I annoy myself and other people. I can tell myself that I’ve become more humble, less self-absorbed.

But is that really true? For I’ve lost something in gaining this lovely contentedness; I’m not clinging to God to get through each week and each day.

It’s easy to forget about my dependence on God when things are going well. And from there, the next step is forgetting about God altogether, forgetting that Jesus has any
relevance to my life.

I don’t know whether to feel too bad about this, or chalk it up to life having its seasons.

There are times when I’m aware of God as a benevolent being in the background and not particularly vested in my day-to-day life except for once a week when I sit down to write this column and see his hand there.

Then there are other times, when God’s presence is more tangible than anything else going on around me.

Now along comes an impending labour to get me thinking about going back to those extra-curriculars again, the sacraments, prayer habits and devotions outside of Sunday Mass which have been so life-giving when I have needed it.

Perhaps my sudden inspiration to go to Reconciliation it was a little prod from my guardian angel.

Not because of a chance of meeting an untimely death in the hospital’s birth unit; just a little tip that rocky times lie ahead (as they always do with a newborn around the place) and I might like to spiritually prepare a bit.

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