I’ve written a lot about my journey back to the Catholic Church. This post will be no exception.
One Sunday morning, back when I was only going to church for my son, I decided to really listen to the homily-the priest’s message. He spoke of the importance of the Sacrament of Confession. I wasn’t buying in…after all, I had convinced myself that confession was between me and God only. Interestingly enough, that is a thing. I’m not disregarding going straight to God to repent and be forgiven, but God had more in store for me.
So I listened, went on about my week, and returned the next week only to feel the tug to go back to confession after many years of avoidance. In the confessional, I fumbled my way into acting a fool. I was speechless (yes, that happened to me, a person of way too many words 😅).
I ended up crying, telling the priest how long it had been since I went to confession, and waited to be admonished by him.
The thing is, I wasn’t. This man of God was so kind and understanding. He handed me a card, told me he would ask me the questions on it, and all I needed to do was answer yes or no. When I was finished and he prayed the Prayer of Absolution over me, I cried. A lot. He just handed me tissues and encouraged me. Not going to lie, it was very different from my experience as a child going to confession-in the best of ways.
Within a couple of weeks, I went back and talked about some of my disappointments in life. This time, the priest handed me a card entitled, “Magnificant with Mary.” I kind of thought it was weird, not in a bad way, but more of a confused way. I’ve definitely had my struggles with the whole Mary “thing.” See Mary’s Story.
All that to say, I received that card at a very difficult time in my life. It seemed as though so many things were spiraling out of my control and I was powerless to stop them. Every aspect of my life seemed as though it was a mess. I couldn’t sleep, and to the world I appeared irradic. Looking back, I now realize that God was rooting out some things from my life that needed gone in order to make more room for important things.
I started reading that card several times a day. It was such a source of strength through some very dark and difficult times.
As I have fully returned to the Catholic Church, many opportunities to grow in understanding of Mary’s significance have come my way. The best part of growing close to Mary is this: her sole purpose is to point us to her Son, never to bring glory to herself. It’s been a wild ride and will continue to be, but I no longer feel out of control, because I’ve realized that I wasn’t in control in the first place.
One more thing: when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, she greeted her by saying, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace.” It’s fitting that I’ve grown appreciative of Jesus’s mother, as I’ve been carried by Grace all of my life; even when it didn’t feel like it. Thanks to my big brother who chose my name, as it means “Full of Grace.”