Thoughts on the Sacraments-1February 20, 2011 No Comments
by JoAnne Thorn
“…Take these words of mine into your heart and soul…” (Deuteronomy 11:18, 26)
I call myself Christian. I call myself Catholic. These words define me in a vague manner. But they do not fully describe my true self, the self known only to God.
My most hidden motive behind every word and action is a manifestation of that true self. Others, who see me only at a superficial level, might call me a good person, but I cannot call myself that, for I know I am only a sinner.
There can be no pretense with God. When I retreat to the deepest level of my soul, I find myself torn between wanting to run into the arms of Christ and wanting to run and hide because of my sins.
The Sacraments are the most powerful ways to encounter Christ. But I can go only so far toward the Light. My sinful nature holds me back. The brilliance of the Light, the Holy of Holies, is too pure for me right now. My sins become like loud static, not allowing me to hear the Word of God. My sins are like clouds darkening the sky, obscuring my view of Jesus. The longer I am in a state of sin, the more distant I drift away from the Lord.
When I am cleansed by the Sacrament of Penance, I am freed once again. The Sacrament removes the obstacles that get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. I used to fear the Sacrament of Penance, not wanting to reveal my failings to a priest. That fear has given way to a deep desire to receive the peace that comes with Confession.
When I am cut off from the Presence of God in sin, I feel lost, as if I am drifting with no direction. I miss the ongoing conversation with God that is prayer. And so, I make my way to a priest, ready to cast off my self-imposed chains. I find it less stressful to make an appointment for Confession, rather than standing in line on a Saturday night, where I would worry about holding up people behind me, or hoping that the short time allotted to parish confessions will not be up before my turn. When I find myself alone with the priest, there are fewer distractions or stressors.
I am fortunate to be able to celebrate Confession with the same priest most of the time. Over the years, he has come to know my personal weaknesses and proclivities toward certain sins. He can uniquely suggest ways to avoid future temptation. In this way, I slowly learn better ways to deal with temptation when it inevitably returns. I reveal my sins to him as he stands in place of Christ, and he always treats me with the mercy of Christ. His words have more meaning to me than he could possibly know. Christ is very powerfully present in the Sacrament. The one to One interaction is more healing to me than anything else I have experienced in life.
When my sins are forgiven, the most prominent feeling I experience is one of great freedom. I am freed from my sins! Nothing stands between me and God! I pray to remain in this Divine embrace forever. Once again I can envision the brilliant Light in my mind, hear the sacred Word whispered by the Holy Spirit. I resume my journey toward the One I Love.
The Mass, leading to Communion, becomes life-giving to me once again. The words from the three readings and the Psalms are taken directly from the pages of the Bible, and I hear them as if for the first time. Their meaning fits this particular moment in my life, and in the lives of everyone who hears them.
When receiving Christ in Communion, I always envision a brilliant white Light in my heart. With all my being, I desire to enter into that wholeness; the Oneness that is God. For me, the Presence of Christ in Communion is an implosion of history, bringing together my Sunday Mass with every Mass celebrated around the world, throughout the centuries, and uniting them with the Last Supper. The words we hear at consecration are spoken by Christ himself. We sit at the table in the Upper Room, celebrating the new Passover with the Lamb Himself.
“This is my Body. This is my Blood.” Those words are being spoken somewhere around the world at this moment. The Mass stands outside of time; “…on Earth as it is in Heaven…”
Healed and strengthened by the Sacraments, I try once again to live as I am called. It is the deepest longing of my spirit to run unencumbered into that Light and finally embrace the source of my desire. No matter how the world sees me, the goal of my life is one day to be held forever in the arms of “the One I Love,” Jesus.
That would be Heaven.
Tags: catholic, Christ, Confession, Eucharist, jesus, JoAnne Thorn, SacramentsJoAnne's