Fall is in the air in southern Minnesota. Farmers are beginning their harvest and the first frost has fallen. There is a beautiful chill in the air, leaves are beginning to change, and pumpkin spice is everywhere. It’s a good time to be in Minnesota.
This past weekend, my husband and I decided to go tent camping to take in the change. It was a wonderful adventure. We finally used the camping gear we received as wedding presents almost 2 years ago. A gorgeous day transformed into a clear and brisk night. We hiked and took in the beauty of God’s creation in a corner of the world that is still very new to us.
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
When fall comes, I can’t help but think of this passage from Ecclesiastes. There is always an appropriate time for everything. Days pass and the seasons change. Crops sprout and are harvested. Children grow. Loved ones inevitably pass away. Change is necessary, beautiful and difficult which makes it such an amazing gift.
At the end of our small camping excursion, my husband and I rushed back into town to clean up and since it was Saturday, go to Confession. Since we moved, I haven’t had much of a chance to get back into a normal routine. It was longer than usual for me between Confessions.
I begin my examination of conscious, at my “new” parish, with a “new” confessor, who also happens to be my boss; I was a bit nervous. Then I began my Confession and realized it is still the Sacrament that I know and love. Although my confessors have changed throughout the years, the love, mercy and grace I receive is still the same.
My favorite part of Reconciliation is the Act of Contrition. I still say the same version I learned at my First Reconciliation, with the thee, thy and thou in it. But regardless of the version you say, the intent remains the same. I realize that I have hurt God through the acts of my sin, and I firmly resolve to not do it again by the grace I have received in the Sacrament.
God is not a housemaid only there to clean up your messes. God will help through the grace of the sacrament. The change of heart must come through personal efforts. That is why repentance must always be followed with penance. We give thanks to the one who forgave us, and begin the necessary change in our lives. How profound the conversion in our lives would be if we truly took the Sacrament of Confession for what it is; a call to change.
Fall is just beginning. The white blanket of winter will swiftly follow it here in Minnesota. The same happens with our souls. Sins as numerous and varied as the colorful leave that scatter on the ground of our souls. We need to gather them into a bag and remove them. Confession is not only the bag that God uses to gather those leaves, but the bonfire he throws them of. Those sins are forgotten. Our souls are once again in a state of grace, pleasing to God.