Today I was fortunate enough to make it to the sacrament of reconciliation at a nearby parish.
I ducked in the door a few minutes after 4:30 and immediately encountered a long line composed mostly of people with gray hair.
As I stood in line I prayed the rosary and asked my favorite saints to pray for my courage. The line didn’t move much. I checked the time on my phone. Still, the line hadn’t moved. I prayed for everyone waiting with me to have courage as well and mentally documented the saints staring down at me through the stained glass windows. The line stubbornly stayed put.
I started fretting. Would I make it before the confession was over? I had a fairly weighty question I wanted to ask. Would I be able to ask it?! What do these people possibly have to confess that is taking so long? What do you confess when you’re 80 years old, what sin can you possibly have committed?
Then it occurred to me. Repeated exposure to the ocean of mercy in the sacrament has the power to change hearts. There is a recently vacated gnome sized hole in the land of boring indifferentism and there-is-no-such-thing-as-sin and clearly-I’m-a-good-person-I-haven’t-killed-anybody. I have felt my conscience sharpen since I was snatched away by baptism.
I recently asked my agnostic husband how often he would say he commits a sin and he replied, “maybe once a month.” That one made me chuckle, I admit.
It takes time and exposure to mercy to mold and strengthen the conscience.
Maybe after 70 years of being repeatedly reconciled to God you become keenly aware of any sin which separates you from him. What a trip.