“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and the real capacity to become the image of His Son.”
John Paul II
Today is my mother’s birthday. (Many happy years, Mom!) No matter how much we might like to or try to we can’t get back to our birth weight. We can’t go back to being all cute and innocent like we were on the day of our birth. We can celebrate or dread the passing of the years, but we can never go back there. We can’t go back to the school yard, and we really can’t pick an age we like and stay there.
Today, we are the sum total of all the years, all the joys, all the sorrows, all the people, and all the events that we have experienced, and our reactions to all of that. We may wish something didn’t happen or that we didn’t react as we did, but the best we can do in some situations is learn from them and move on. We know that in some of our dealings we have had to apologize and in others we have had to forgive. Sometimes we have been able to grow in that relationship and sometimes, perhaps, we have grown apart. In our spiritual life, we can, in our relationship with God, return to where we were on the day of our Baptism. We have available to us in the sacramental Mystery of Reconciliation a Second Baptism.
Let’s not misunderstand this concept. No one needs to be re-baptized once they have become a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. Even those who were baptized into other Christian denominations or those who may not have practiced their faith for many years are still members of the Church. The Mystery of Reconciliation allows us to confess our sins, do penance or reparation for them, and most importantly, to be forgiven by God.
I think it naturally flows from this experience that we might wish to apologize to or ask forgiveness from any person we might have hurt in our sinfulness. We can return to the innocence of the day of Baptism. We can see ourselves once again dressed in white, having had our sins washed away. We can hold once again the lighted candle of our commitment, having been renewed and re-enlightened.
We can make our profession of faith and receive the Holy Eucharist in grace and thanksgiving. This is the season of forgiveness. We need to remind ourselves or be reminded of this fact. Many people try to make their annual Confession at this time of year, and many do not. I have spoken and written about this before. I don’t need anyone to go to Confession for my sake. I don’t get combat pay for listening to Confessions.
I encourage you to make a good Confession for YOU. If you’ve had a bad experience before or haven’t gone for a long time, don’t be afraid to try a new confessor. If you think you can’t forgive someone else or know that you can’t forgive yourself, make the effort anyway. If you struggle with physical health or mental health issues, or someone else’s sins or bad choices, or questions, or feelings, or loss, or your own sins or bad choices, know that I have seen other people in a similar place make tremendous progress with this healing sacrament. That’s my wish and prayer for you this Lenten season. Receive a Second Baptism in Confession. Think about it. Try it.
The author is a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh