This is a beautiful article about confession which Danielle Bean just linked on her blog. This part really struck me:
When a girl asked Pope Benedict if she could take the initiative in leading her parents back to the sacraments, he told her: “I would think so, of course, with great love and great respect for your parents, because they certainly have a lot to do. However, with a daughter’s respect and love, you could say to them: ‘Dear Mommy, dear Daddy, it is so important for us all, even for you, to meet Jesus. This encounter enriches us. It is an important element in our lives. Let’s find a little time together, we can find an opportunity. Perhaps there is also a possibility where Grandma lives.”
It makes me tear up to think of children longing for holiness but not given the opportunity to attend Mass or Confession, or to be taught how to pray and how to love Our Lord. That's one thing that was so beautiful about teaching in a holy Catholic school. The children were being formed in the Faith all day and thereby were able to share the faith with their own families, for the few who weren't practicing Christians. I am so thankful I can give this gift of my Faith with my own children and pray that Steven and I will stay faithful to the promises we've made to raise them in such a way.
Another part I loved:
Someone asked Pope Benedict XVI why we should go to confession regularly if we always seem to be confessing the same sins anyway. He answered, “It is true: Our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up.
...And this cleansing of the soul that Jesus gives us in the sacrament of confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons..."
I thought that was a beautiful way to explain why we still need to confess our habitual sins just as we need to clean the same parts of our homes every week.
I am so thankful for the gift of this Sacrament and the gift of our holy priests who spend hours in the confessional for our growth and grace. Last week I had the privilege of starting a period with a new spiritual director who is a priest. It was a very different dynamic than what I've been used to with my holy motherly spiritual director. She knew me so well, knew just what to say to make me feel so loved by God, so confident of his will for me, and so open to cry and share my soul with her. But Father gave me some different beautiful gifts...one was in helping me to see one of my big tendencies I've been struggling with in a positive light, and the other was through offering me the Sacrament of Confession so that my soul would be filled with grace and ready to continue on my spiritual journey with greater fervor.
I hope that I can be more faithful in attending Confession myself and promoting it among my friends and family. So all you Catholics who are reading...when was the last time you allowed Christ to fill you with the graces of Confession? This is a great time of the year to do just that!
I also wanted to add what a beautiful experience it has been to attend Confession and spiritual direction even when I have the children with me. I still recall a time last year when I was in Confession with a wonderful elderly Franciscan priest. He was so happy and filled with joy seeing my girls! He found a beautiful decade rosary in his bag to give to Mary Clare and she still remembers that special rosary. I was so worried about bringing them along to my first meeting with Father last week, but they were absolute angels! So many times the priests thank me for having them there and it makes them smile to watch their little antics while trying to behave.
My confession was almost over last week and the girls had been utterly silent for the 45 minutes of spiritual direction and confession (although they did have some fruit snacks and crawled into the hall to watch school dismissal, and Ellie might've hid an important paper of his). But then just as we were about to close, Mary Clare came up to me and loudly announced, "Ellie has a poopy diaper!" And so my soul and Ellie's bottom were able to get nice and clean that afternoon!