Monday, August 27, 2007

A funny thing happened to me on my way to reconciliation with God ...

We Catholic-Christians have this "silly" ritual: we confess our sins to Christ (yes, it is Christ that we confess to: the Christ, through the priest physically present, in alter Christus, who then forgives us our sins). Now, let's think about this miracle for a moment: I have offended God through a sin committed or omitted, and God, in His infinite Mercy, forgives me, and through His infinite Justice pays for my offense through His Own self-sacrifice.

"All roads lead to Calvary ..."

With me still? Because I've lost me: why would God ever forgive my sins? When, after all, I find it very hard to forgive myself. Now, try forgiving somebody who's sinned against you. Okay, have you done that? Now, imagine doing that over and over again, perfectly. Parenting might be a hint of God's Mercy, but I think my ability to fathom this miracle is extremely limited, even as pater familias, as the below stories illustrate.

I was waiting in the faster line at the confessional (you didn't know that queuing theory makes you efficacious in spirituality, now, did you? Well, then, there it is). We where moving along at a fair clip, but the lady in line in front of me turns to me, out of the blue, and begins aping a confessor who just doesn't stop confessing. To be sure, the lady ahead of her did have her Rosary out (a sure warning sign that this particular confession would be a prolooooooooonged affair), but her confession took no longer than anyone else's. Apparently, she forgot the "waiting for the bus" rule: the bus takes twice as long as you think it will when you're waiting for it at the bus stop (if you matriculate in the field of Operations Research, you find this rule explicated in the stocastic models course). So, when our angry lady stormed into the confessional, I checked my cell. When she stormed out, 8 minutes later, to spit out her penance in front of the Presence of our Most Blessed Lord, I did not inform her that she took exactly twice as long as the poor lady bearing the brunt of her anger ...

I didn't tell this angry lady this, but the gentleman two places behind me accosted the soon-to-be-innocent in front of him: "DOES CONFESSION ALWAYS TAKE THIS LONG?" The young man behind me, who I will vouchstaff for sainthood if God wants my opinion, answered quietly: "I don't know, it depends, I guess." The angry man behind me didn't let it go: "WELL, DOES THE PRIEST SPEAK ENGLISH?"

Now, where in the world did that accusation come from?

The young man, a model of patience, replied: "I don't know, it depends on who the priest is, I guess." "HUH! WELL, THIS WILL BE INTERESTING!"

I blame foot-mouth-itis for my useless addition to this conversation: "Sir, this is the faster line ..."

Now, where in the world did that comment come from, and what does my comment matter, anyway?

"FASTER IS A RELATIVE TERM!" was the harumph I got for my trouble. I did not tell this man that he could test his theory of relativity by trying out the other line.

Oops, my turn. The priest heard my confession (I didn't confess my offenses of thoughts about how God could improve his creation in two particular cases in the a particular confession line or the future sin about my next thought). I received, in English, my penance and did it, quickly.

Everything was right with God, again ... that is, vis-à-vis me, or so I thought. Driving along, I checked my rear-view mirror: the very chic young man in the very tinted sunglasses, with the very black hotrod had a card hanging from his mirror ... like a moth to the flame, I translated the backwards writing:

"I >heart< MY P*N*S" -- (vowels editted out by author)

Eddie Murphy states the man who shot Pope JPII didn't want to wait in line (Satan: "You shot the Pope? Come right in!"). The "huh!" I uttered after reading our young man's narcissistic ode will probably put me right up front, too.

A few weeks ago, a priest delivered a relevant homily (it, too, was in English) from the Colosians (as my brother Bob Colosi likes to say). He said: "If we are no longer Greek or Jew, then God loves you as He loves me. So, if you are crying, then, by God's Grace, I should be sad, too, and comfort you in your sorrow, for if I'm happy when you are sad, I'm not seeing the Christ in you." I don't know when I'll learn this lesson, but I had better learn it quickly, for this life is over soon.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I'm not sure I "got" this part -- [...will probably put me right up front, too] but boy, am I glad that we can always drive back to our confessor, and do right with God. Every day, if necessary.