This morning, I had to get up early to be at my parents at 8am. My dad and I had to go to a confirmation sponsors retreat. I decided to go to church with him, as well. When we arrived at church, we sat in the front row. I wasn’t sure what to expect today.
After mass was over, we went to the school building, and into the room where they meet every Sunday. Karen brought cookies from Whole Foods for us to snack on. We opened with a prayer, and BethAnn lit some candles. She explained to us that we were going to be broken up into smaller groups to discuss some bible passages, that have the same theme but mean something different. She passed the passages out to the group.
When we went into the separate rooms, My dad and I had a passage from the book of Genesis.
Honestly, it has been so long since I intently, and closely read the Bible. My dad and I were put in a room with another director from the RCIA. My dad read the passage, and the director asked us about the meaning of the passage, and what we thought it might mean. Dad said, “I think what God is saying is that he didn’t make us look physically like him, but inwardly. It is not to be taken literally.” I thought obviously, or we would all look the same! My dad seemed so intent on getting the interpretations, “Right.” Me, not so much, the Bible isn’t about being right, or wrong it is about your own interpretation of the words. Somehow, the topic of my adoption came up, and the director cried. She said, “That is so beautiful. this is a perfect passage for us to read today. Although, I wasn’t made psychically from my parents, I was made for them in likeness.” It was a heavy day. I never thought of it that way, applying a Bible passage to my adoption.
When we all regrouped in the first room, we were asked to share what we thought of the passages, that we were given. The RCIA director asked me to share my adoption story. It seemed to touch everyone in the room. I guess I really am so blessed, and have taken it for granted for so long. After we discussed Genesis, we were handed another passage to discuss. It was from the book of Exodus. Our passage was about Moses and the burning bush.
When we returned to the separate rooms again, I was asked to read the passage. After I read the passage, we started to discuss the meaning of it. My dad thought of the movie Ten Commandments, and how in the beginning when Charlton Heston goes to the top of the mountain, he is this handsome young man. When he comes down from the mountain, he is older and wiser, and I think that has meaning to it. It was cute and funny. My dad is so awesome.
After we discussed the second passage as a group, it was time for lunch. We said a prayer and then went into another room to eat. Lunch was corn chowder, pastries, salad, and two different kinds of sandwiches. It was all so yummy. The assistant RCIA director asked me about my spiritual background. I said, “well honestly, I really haven’t been too involved with it. I was kind of scared back in High school. I don’t think I had very good leaders. They kind of turned me off, from believing and being involved in my faith.” She said,” That is why so many young people leave the church!” I thought that may be so, but being here with my dad, and the leaders of SSJ it makes me want to believe again. There is something about getting back to your old roots, as an adult.
After lunch, we went back to the church. It was about to be time for Dad to make his first confession. When we took our seats in the pews. BethAnn wanted us to just take a moment and listen to some music and meditate for a moment. She put on some Christian music, and we meditated for a while. She asked us to take a lighted candle and put it in front of the altar. While we were on our way to the altar, she wanted us to think about something we wanted to pray for. I thought of my dad. I am so proud of him.
Shortly after we set our candles down in front of the altar, Father J came into the church, and was going to say a few words to us and explain to us about confession, and then give the examination of our conscious.
When the music shut off, Father J turned on the lights and took a seat right across from me. He and I shared glances at first. I couldn’t help it. The fact that he was a priest didn’t matter, as it should. I saw a man, not a priest. He was attractive, but I was flirting with a priest, and he was flirting back! He talked about confession and the importance of it, and then gave the examination of the conscious. He thoroughly discussed the 7 deadly sins, and how they can prevent us from fully receiving God’s grace. Then, Don was the first to go into the confessional for confession, then my dad, who was in there for 45 minutes, or so it seemed.
While my dad was in the confessional, Beth Ann came over to talk to me and asked me what I thought today, was going to be like, and I said, “Honestly, I wasn’t sure what today was going to be like. I haven’t been to a retreat in so long, maybe since high school.” I told her how much I liked it, and how nice it was to come back to my faith as an adult, especially in this setting. She was glad that I was getting something out of it. I thought about how much I have taken things for granted, especially so many blessings.
At one point, I glanced back at Karen, who was struggling with her faith, and the language. She is from Taiwan and was having a hard time with this transition, and my heart broke for her. My catholic faith was something I took for granted for so long, and then there are people, who like Karen probably struggle with the meaning, the process, and are probably scared.
When my dad came out of the confessional, he was so relieved and so happy. He knelt down did his penance, and then Father J came out of the confessional to talk to Karen. After he spoke with her, he approached me and smiled. This is wrong, what I am about to admit, but I have been flirting with him. I also have been flirting with the idea of going to confession. I think Beth Ann told him that I was considering it. I looked at him and smiled. He said, “You ready.” I swallowed and nodded my head. I stood up and walked back to the confessional with him. I told him I hear the Darth Vader theme in my head. He said, are you telling me I look like Darth Vader?” He laughed. I said, “No, it’s just I haven’t been to confession in so long.”
When I entered the confessional, I remember it being so much bigger. I looked around and took a seat on the bench. I looked over at Father J. He was leaning in through the window. He smiled at me. I smiled back. I took a deep breath. I said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been probably 10 years since my last confession.” He nodded. I looked up at him. I said, “I am sorry, I am not sure if I remember how to do this.” He smiled and said, “Take your time, and we can just have a conversation.” I said, “Okay.” I told him conversation how I struggled with my faith, took things for granted, and I am married to a wonderful man, who has a servant’s heart, and I have been given this amazing chance at life through my adoption, etc.
At the end of my confession, he told me for my penance to read over my wedding readings, and look at my life and see where God was trying to call me back, but I just wasn’t listening. I said, “I can do that.” He said, “Good. Now if you need the act of contrition it is on the wall.” I said, “Pshh I got this” and smiled. He laughed. We prayed the act of contrition. He said, “I absolve you from your sins.” I said, “Thank you, Father.”
When I left the confessional, I felt so much better. I was on a high. My dad and I left to go home. I had to get my car at my parents’ house and head back to Moon township. It has been a long day!