December 1, 2014
As I mentioned in my column last month, my daughter is preparing for her first Reconciliation. It’s an exciting, and sometimes scary, time for a youngster.
I recall my first confession like it was yesterday. I was a bundle of nerves, to say the least. I was so nervous about going behind that heavy, velvet curtain into a dark, tiny room and revealing my faults and failures to the shadowy figure on the other side of the screen.
Just as I was nervous and scared, I suspected my daughter would be, too. I tried to soothe her fears and talk her through the apprehension. It wasn’t easy, but so far so good. She is about to have her first confession just as this issue goes to press.
We have both learned so much on the journey of preparation for this wonderful sacrament. As we readied her for this important step in her faith, we had a workbook to complete and a family retreat to attend. It was great to talk with my little girl on a one-on-one basis about her faith. There are moments in parenting when you realize your child can actually comprehend more than you give them credit for; and this was one of those moments for me.
It really hit me when we were talking about how God’s love and forgiveness bring us so much joy and happiness. It happened when she was telling me about how her CCD teacher was asking them to think about their sins. My sweet little girl looked up at me with tears filling the corners of her beautiful green eyes and asked, “But momma, what if God doesn’t forgive me?”
Her words struck me right to my core. In an instant, my heart ached for her. She seemed to understand the concept of it all, but when it came down to it, she had the most simple and honest question weighing on her mind. She was genuinely concerned and worried about the uncertainty of it all. What if God doesn’t forgive me?
She’s bright enough to comprehend all this information we are throwing at her about God’s unfailing love, His desire to call us to be good people and our duty to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Those are all heavy topics even for adults, let alone laying that concept and responsibility on a kid.
I was surprised at her ability to seemingly digest it all. Heck, most adults don’t want to address all these ideas or haven’t really given them much thought since they first stepped into the confessional many, many years ago. But here was this innocent, pure, little child asking such a powerful question. What if God doesn’t forgive me?
I admit I was apprehensive way back at my first confession. It was a very memorable experience, one that has stuck with me all these years. But the one thing I don’t recall is being uncertain about whether or not God would forgive me. I don’t ever remember doubting that. I guess I was lucky. I did my best to convince my daughter that this was not something she needed to add to her list of concerns. She had no need to question, “What if God doesn’t forgive me?”
My answer to her went a little something like this, “Honey, you never, and I mean never, have to worry about God’s forgiveness. There are lots of times you will feel the need to worry about things and see other people (including mommy) stressing. But God’s forgiveness is not one of them. He will always forgive you, no matter what.”
That’s the greatest thing about God’s love and forgiveness. It is a constant, ever-present gift. His love will never fade or waiver. It will never leave us, betray us or come with strings attached. It’s that simple, I told her.
There is nothing else in life like it. If my daughter learns and remembers only one thing only from this beautiful sacrament, it is that never, ever again in her life will she need to ask the question, “What if God doesn’t forgive me?”
That, indeed, is the greatest gift of Reconciliation.
Mullally is the director of communications and media services and editor of the DCA. She resides in Lincoln with her husband, Matt, and children, Abby and Ryan