Theresa/my desert heart
…the bathroom was clean…sparkling faucet, clean sink, white tub, toilet wiped, clear mirror…
I realized, standing there at 6 pm, that I hadn’t been in the upstairs bathroom since I cleaned it at 9:30 am.
And it looked it.
Did I clean the bathroom today or was that yesterday? I look at the children’s books on the floor along with pieces of toilet paper, an empty toilet paper roll, smudges on mirror, toothpaste in sink, linen closet left open as well as the shower curtain thrown carelessly aside…and oh yeah…hair in the drain. What’s the point? I ask myself…why do I bother? *sigh*
I have been tempted to think that as I walk out of confession, after confessing the same fault for the umpteenth time. What’s the point Lord? I am just going to do it again. It’s just going to get dirty again.
Good thing I don’t give into that thinking with my bathroom…or my soul. Imagine the filth!
Regardless of the fact that my soul may be smudged again within a few hours of confession, there has to be a determination to begin again…even if it means a weekly cleansing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There has to be hope and perseverence that we will do our best with God’s grace not to commit the same sin again.
We must repeatedly say Nunc coepi…Now I begin.
Some day, my soul won’t get quite as dirty as quickly as it does now. I have hope.
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
I would not have wanted to be a first century wedding planner.
Instead of an event that last a day, these weddings went on for multiple days. People knew how to party in first century Israel. And anyone who’s ever planned a party knows that the two most important things you have to provide are drinks and food. What humans like hasn’t changed that much.
And you also had one heck of a guest list. No wimpy “plus ones” at these events. Jesus was there with Mary and all the disciples. Can you imagine that today? “Miriam? Hi, this is Mary, down the road…we’d love to come to Elizabeth’s wedding. My son will be coming, and about twelve of his closest friends…”
So we have the wedding. And then we have the party–a days long party.
With apparently very bad planning, because the wine ran out. Early.
At these parties, you started with the best wine you had, and then, as people “enjoyed themselves”, the wine got progressively “less good”, shall we say. It was prudent not just monetarily, but after a day or so of drinking, people probably weren’t noticing the quality anymore.
But at this wedding, there was no wine, of any vintage. Imagine the scene in the classic film A Christmas Story, after the dogs have devoured the holiday turkey: “No turkey! No turkey gravy! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, all gone!”
The wine was indeed gone. All gone.
Now, Mary had probably thrown a few parties in her day, or watched her mother do it. There was probably a party when she and Joseph became officially engaged. And like many seasoned hostesses, she didn’t panic. She simply turned to her son and said, “they have no wine.”
Now Jesus, like sons (and daughters) throughout the ages, had a little “do I have to” moment. (Remember, Jesus was human, in all ways but sin). “My hour has not yet come.”
Mary ignores this, and calls over the servants. “Do whatever he tells you,” she says. Then, Jesus performs his first miracle–he turns the large jugs of water into wine. And not just any wine–wine so good that the chief steward is amazed at its quality.
This is a “fun” miracle. No one’s life hangs in the balance, but the appearance of the wine saves the hosts from a lot of embarrassment that would probably be mentioned at every social gathering until the Second Coming. (It’s a quirk of human nature that we remember the ‘imperfect’ parties, but not the perfect ones.) But it’s also a nice reminder that Jesus and Mary care about the small events of our lives, things like parties and celebrations. We can turn to them in all times, when we need a healing, but also when we just need a party to come off without the turkey falling on the floor or someone spilling red wine all over the carpet, or the kids destroying the leather couch or the basement dry-wall.
Jesus and Mary were involved in every aspect of humanity, and that included the social aspects. In Lent, we’re probably not throwing a lot of parties. But we can remember that our heavenly family cares about everything we do, even our feasts.
Catholicism isn’t just a religion of the cross, although that’s an important aspect. It’s as Hilaire Belloc said: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine/ there is always laughter and good red wine.”
Happy Wednesday ladies! I always heard time flies when you’re having fun, but this is ridiculous…it’s already the end of January…2013! Remember when we were all realizing the world was still here and operating the end of January 2000? Anyway; it is the end of January, we are wrapping up any thoughts and reflections we have on St Therese’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Here’s a link to the free online version or the audio version.
We’re also checking in on our memorization verses, Ephesians 4:25-32. Do you remember being back in high school, writing page after page of verb conjugations so you could memorize the endings for the regular verbs or the conjugations themselves for the irregular verbs? Or maybe all the way back to elementary when we wrote our spelling words three, four, five or more times so we would have them memorized for the test? Well I do and I am going to have to resort back that practice.
I regret to inform you, I do not have my verses memorized. I could blame it on all sorts of things: nursing momma brain, sleep deprivation, lack of motivation, lack of time, or my new favorite–”Work related_____” memory loss, hearing loss, you name it. And maybe that’s some of it, but some of it has to do with priority and my Scripture memorization just did not make it to the top of that list this month.
Ouch, that looks pretty bad and felt even worse typing it out.
But I am not going to beat myself silly or let the devil do the same. I’m going to make it a priority, move it to the top of my list and catch up with you all in February.
I’m pretty sure after confessing I did not get my scripture verses memorized, you won’t be surprised to know I also did not finish the book. I know…really?! But that’s not keeping me from discussing it and it shouldn’t you either. Don’t sit there with something to share and not share it. I am positive we would benefit from your perspective. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago my small parish had a women’s book club and I rarely read the book, but that did not stop me from attending the discussions, enjoying the company of other women and their thoughts on a book I had not read, but could still contribute to the conversation and enjoy the snacks. So please jump in and let’s learn from each other.
Even at that age I loved far-stretching views, sunlit
spaces and stately trees; in a word, all nature charmed me and
lifted up my soul to Heaven.
–St Therese the Little Flower
A few years ago I was really struggling, I mean really struggling. I called a friend, a kind soul I refer to as my soul sister. She told me to make myself a scrambled egg sandwich, go sit outside and get some sun on my legs, arms, and face. Being the piglet (and Rabbit) temperament that make me, me…I worried about skin cancer but worried more about me if I did not heed her advice. The above passage reminds me of that day. “…all nature charmed me and lifted my soul to Heaven.” I’m also reminded of a recent post by Ginny at Small Things.
There is something very beatific about placing oneself in nature.
Another brief passage, this taken from St Therese’s recollection of her mother’s death and her sister Genevieve. St Therese is speaking of herself in the third person, “…for trials had matured and strengthened her soul, so that nothing on earth could make her grieve.” Pray for me sisters; I am not there. I still cry frequently over a rough 2012 having to leave our family parish home of almost 17 years. I grieve not sitting in the pews I sat in before the baptism of each of my children. I pray this trial is maturing me and strengthening my soul for Heaven, but most days it just leaves me in a sloppy puddle of tears for being misunderstood and maligned.
And that’s why Holy Mother Church has given us these holy examples found in the saints. They were so human that we can relate and yet so pious that we strive to imitate them.
Which saint do you strive to imitate and why?
The next passage I wish to discuss is her description of her first confession.
Shortly after this I made my first confession. It is a very sweet memory. Pauline had warned me: “Thérèse, darling, it is not to a man but to God Himself that you are going to tell your sins.” I was so persuaded of this that I asked her quite seriously if I should not tell Father Ducellier that I loved him “with my whole heart,” as it was really God I was going to speak to in his person. Well instructed as to what I was to do, I entered the confessional, and turning round to the priest, so as to see him better, I made my confession and received absolution in a spirit of lively faith–my sister having assured me that at this solemn moment the tears of the Holy Child Jesus would purify my soul. I remember well that he exhorted me above all to a tender devotion towards Our Lady, and I promised to redouble my love for her who already filled so large a place in my heart. Then I passed him my Rosary to be blessed, and came out of the Confessional more joyful and lighthearted than I had ever felt before. It was evening, and as soon as I got to a street lamp I stopped and took the newly blessed Rosary out of my pocket, turning it over and over. “What are you looking at, Thérèse, dear?” asked Pauline. “I am seeing what a blessed Rosary looks like.” This childish answer amused my sisters very much. I was deeply impressed by the graces I had received, and wished to go to confession again for all the big feasts, for these confessions filled me with joy.
St Therese the Little Flower
The Story of a Soul
As you’ve been reading through or just picking out snippets here and there, what words of this holy and little saint have made you stop and ponder?
Let’s discuss our little saint in the comments. Share the saints you strive to imitate and why. How did you do on our scripture memory?
Our theme for February is “Home” and we will be reading Splendor in the Ordinary: Your Home as a Holy Place (Thanks to Angela in the comments for letting us know that Hallowed Be This House: Finding Signs of Heaven in Your Home is the reprint.) We will be memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men.
The above quote is from the Apostle Paul, defending himself against the governor Felix. The above quote should describe each and every one of us. It’s really, really important. It is critical to our well being…yes, that important. We see why this way of life is so valuable in the next chapter. In Chapter 25, Paul is now appealing to to the Emperor Festus. Look at verse 7
And when he had come, the Jews who had gone down from Jerusalem stood about him bringing against him many serious charges which they could not prove.
So you have these swirling voices accusing Paul, of some serious things the Scripture says, yet they could not prove them.
I wrote a little note next that verse:
“Satan’s lies do the same things to us!”
How many times my dear sisters have the voices been churning in our minds–upsetting our stomachs, agitating our lives? I will answer that one for us all…too many times. There are not enough tally marks in the world to keep account and I’m pretty sure the average would be outrageous. Let’s go a little farther into chapter 25.
For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.
My little note in the margin…“A prisoner without charges, that’s me sometimes.”
Are you a prisoner without charges? A crazy yardbird of a woman being held hostage by the imaginary squawk of Satan? Yeah, me too sometimes. Held tight by invisible chains wrapped so tight I can’t breathe. Satan may get the ball rolling and then, as the country song says, it’s like a snowball headed for hell.
But let’s go back to where we started, keeping a clear conscience. How do we do that?
Go to confession.
Go to confession.
And then…go to confession.
Not a scrupulous, frantic dash to knock people out of the way in the confession line because you are the worst of the worst. That’s not God either. Do not be fooled into thinking of yourself as a vile sinner unworthy of God’s merciful love. Those thoughts come straight from hell meant to keep you out of the confessional and far away from a merciful and loving God. No, I mean keep a regular date with Christ in the confessional. Write it on your calendar, and go.
You may be sweating bullets on the drive and feel a bit jittery in the line, but when you come out of that sacrament, come on…you know you love it! You just encountered Christ and He placed you in His merciful heart, the one that was split open wide to prove His death, for you, was complete. He placed you in there and He showered you and filled you up with His immense, unconditional, always merciful and waiting for you…love.
Do not let Satan try to convince you of something you are not. Stand firm in who you are…
I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).
I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).
I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).
And tell the devil he’s full of baloney.
A commenter here at Suscipio inspired me to write a post with these words, “Would love to ‘hear’ you speak more on how you pray the hours and keep your day centered and united with the Church.”
First, I would have to be bluntly honest as say that some days…many days…I am everything BUT centered. Were I to reflect on the days I have managed to stay *centered*, I would find some common threads…threads that make up a tapestry of a faith-filled day.
In the morning, after dogs have a bathroom break from the long night and youngest daughter is working on breakfast or watching a morning program and coffee has been brewed, I fill a mug and head into the sunroom to my favorite rocking chair by the window. This is where I begin Morning Prayer and if I am blessed with no urgent matters, I can add the Office of Readings to my Morning Prayer. The Office of Readings consists of a couple of psalms and two readings: one from scripture and one from either the early Church Fathers or a saint if we are celebrating a particular Feast Day. I have found wonderful tidbits of wisdom to carry me through the day in these readings…readings I wouldn’t normally pick off a shelf. The Hours are prayed in union with the Universal Church and for those who cannot pray for themselves.
Some mornings, I will pray the first decade of my rosary for that day before I leave the rocking chair. In my experience though, I pray the rosary best in the car or walking the dogs. It helps keep me focused and “usually” more patient than I would normally be driving in a city of terrible drivers.
On those wonderful days when there are not too many errands, youngest daughter and I attend Mass at noon at our parish. This truly is the *center point* of my day. The Eucharist gives me strength for the rest of the day and I find it easier to pause frequently to be aware of how Jesus is present to me in a special way.
Evening Prayer is prayed while dinner is cooking or just prior to this hectic time of day. My husband and I make an effort a few nights a week to join in praying the prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum. After I read aloud to youngest, we read a psalm aloud or pray part of Night Prayer which are truly consoling prayers to utter as one gets ready to fall asleep. I then take this time for quiet prayer, placing myself at Jesus’ feet to talk about my day and listen to Him, to ponder good spiritual reading, or to just rest in His Presence.
In between all these moments, I try be aware of God’s Presence. I repeat the Jesus Prayer. I bless myself often with holy water that I keep on my kitchen windowsill. I keep a scripture quote in the kitchen to ponder while I am working in there. I try focus on one task at a time entering fully into the moment…the present. I try to limit my time on the computer which contributes to my distraction and when I do go on, I try to remember to ask, “Is this truly for God’s glory?” or am I just restless and looking for something to fill the space?
Notice how many times the word *try* is typed above. I fail…many times. I go on the computer too much, I withdraw and bury myself in books, I eat things that are not good for me, I flit from one task to another without fully completing them and I forget the Lord’s presence…very often.
It is only in this continual returning to the very Center of our soul…that we can remain centered…fully balanced throughout our day.
“The soul’s center is God…the more degrees of love it has, the more deeply it enters into God and centers itself in him. We can say that there are as many centers in God possible to the soul, each one deeper than the other, as there are degrees of love of God possible to it.”
~St. John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love
Last Sunday’s Gospel (Mk. 6:30-34) reminded me of my favorite spiritual self-care practice: going on retreat. In this Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” In order to hear the “still, small voice” of God, we must make ourselves quiet and remove ourselves to a place where that voice becomes the dominant sound in our interior symphony.
I have been privileged to attend two silent retreats in my life, both within the past decade. This isn’t something I was familiar with previously. Of course I had attended “days of recollection,” or the confirmation retreat my parish held for us before we received the Sacrament of Confirmation in eighth grade. At my old parish, I was a member of parish council, and we started every year with a retreat day. These were all somewhat in the keeping of Jesus’ words, but not entirely.
A silent retreat–whether for a weekend, a week, or longer (how lucky you are if you can attend for longer!) reaps rich spiritual fruit. Here, we are imitating Jesus in his practice of going off alone to pray, as is often mentioned in the Gospels. While our retreats will most likely not be one of forty days of fasting in the desert, each retreat has its own character and graces to impart.
Both of my retreats ran from Friday evening (five o’clock) to Sunday afternoon, after lunch. Surrounded by women from throughout the diocese, we were staying at a local retreat center about 10 minutes from my house.
Led by a priest, the retreat features five conferences around a unified theme. There is Mass every day, as well as the public recitation of morning and evening prayer, rosary, and the Divine Mercy chaplet. Saturday evening will feature one of my most treasured and fruitful devotions: all-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, encased in a monstrance on the chapel’s stone altar. No other prayer practice gives me as much solace and allows me to hear God’s voice as clearly as when I am before Him, exposed and waiting.
Silence begins after the introduction and overview of the retreat. Meals are in silence, allowing us to focus on the simple, fresh fare presented to us by the retreat staff. After our meal, there is the first conference, Mass and evening prayer in the European-inspired chapel. I feel the week begin to fall away from me and my heart begins to open itself like a flower unfolding, focusing toward God who is here with us.
Bedtime is early for most of us, around ten. This makes sense, since morning prayer and Mass begin at seven thirty! The late spring morning is fresh and birds are singing outside my room. I take my bible, notebook, breviary, and a pen, and head for the chapel. When I’m on retreat I always have my bible, pen, and journal handy, so I can write down the insights I receive from conferences and private prayer.
Light streams in through the high stained glass windows. Our voices echo around the stone chapel as we chant lauds and celebrate Mass. Our fast is broken with breakfast, which is accompanied by quiet harp music.
After breakfast, the second conference is given, and we have some free time until rosary and lunch at eleven thirty. I make a visit to the Lourdes Grotto, outside the retreat house, and leave a slip of paper with my intentions on the altar before her. Several others have left notes, pictures, and flowers at Mary’s feet. After brief prayer, I settle my back against the cold stone of the grotto as I sit on a bench, and I read my bible, engaging in true lectio divina, because I am not rushed. There is nothing for me to do but sit and pray over the words of the Bible and see what meaning they may have for me.
Bible reading is followed by stations of the cross, again outside, and again said leisurely. I have time to meditate, to write what comes into my mind, to truly ponder the stations that are erected here on bronze plaques. I sketch some of them into my journal.
Rosary, lunch, another conference, then more free time. I read one of the devotional books I’ve brought with me, and walk around the grounds, admiring the statues of angels and saints that adorn the lawn. Now, I mull over what I’ve thought and read and pondered already today. As I walk, things begin to click and ideas begin to form. I start to see things I hadn’t seen before and I feel that God is truly revealing himself to me here, in this small suburban lawn.
Divine Mercy Chaplet, conference, dinner. The conferences are an hour long, and my hand is always running over the pages of my journal and my bible, covering the margins with notes and quotes from the priest. We can ask questions here, if we’d like–it’s not a totally silent retreat, after all.
After dinner, we have my favorite thing–adoration. The priest leads us in exposition. Then he slowly carries the monstrance before each person, allowing us to touch it and pray intently before it before moving on to the next woman. I feel so close to God in this quiet, candlelit chapel.
The priest is available for confession. After exposition, the adoration begins. Some women have chosen this as their hour. Some go to confession. There is a social in the conference room, where we can break silence and share some food with the women and get to know each other better. We are from all walks of life, but we all want a closer relationship with God.
My hour for adoration is eleven. There, I pray silently, my mind drifting from one thing to the next, asking God for clarity and wisdom. I write in my journal. When my hour is complete, I go to bed, my head still swimming with the things I’ve learned today.
Sunday flies by–lauds, breakfast, final conference, Mass. Then it’s time to go back into the “real world” and away from this quiet place of solitude, solace, and prayer. Can I take what I’ve learned back with me? I am more successful at some things than others. But every retreat leaves an indelible mark on me.
I know that it can be hard to get away, especially if you have children. But if you are ever presented with the chance to attend a silent retreat, please do it! Your soul will revive, and you will be able to hear God’s voice so clearly. As the weekend unfolds, His voice becomes stronger in your heart. You come back to your normal life refreshed, revived, and ready to face the challenges that are present there. It’s not just a gift for yourself–it is a gift for your family and friends. If Jesus, who is God, took time to be alone with His father, how much more important is it for us?
Come now, let us set things right,
Says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
They may become white as snow;
Thought they be crimson red,
They may become white as wool. †Isaiah 1: 18
When I was six, and my brother was about three, we decided it would be a good idea to shake a sealed two-liter bottle of soda and see what happened when you unscrewed the top.
I don’t think I need to tell you what happened.
We also thought it would be a good idea to do this on the same day that my mother had just washed the floor.
(The mothers in the audience are groaning right now, I know.)
As soon as we uncapped the bottle and the liquid starting flowing out onto the table and the floor, we knew we were going to be busted. And we were. Punishment was fast and furious.
I imagine that, to God, most of us are like my brother and I with the Sprite bottle. We do some pretty stupid things out of spiritual immaturity or ignorance, or even misplaced curiosity. (See: Eve, serpent, garden, fruit.) The Apostles did some stupid things—probably a lot of stupid things that didn’t make it into the Gospels. So we’re in good company with our mistakes.
But during Lent, we were called to “set things right”. God invited us to fix the things that have gone wrong. Because things go wrong; so wrong that God sent His only son to save us from our sins.
He is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!
In Advent, the same theme is expressed—God came to Earth as an infant to save us. Because we needed to be saved. And in Lent, that baby boy is grown, and heading to the cross. We have been redeemed, because Jesus died on the cross and rose again on the first Easter. But still, we need to set things right.
Now, my brother and I didn’t mop the floor for our mother. At six and three, we probably wouldn’t have done a very good job. But we were punished for what we did wrong. And while we did many other things wrong as we were growing up, we never made that particular mistake again.
God doesn’t expect us to become instantly perfect. We fall, a lot. We fall repeatedly. To get back up, spiritually, requires confession, which I’ve already written about, Always Fresh.
During Lent, we should have pondered penance more deeply, more prayerfully. The three parts of Lent—prayer, fasting, almsgiving—help us “clean the floor”, so to speak. They cleanse our souls of what is not God and help us set things right with ourselves, the world at large, and with God. We were called to enter more deeply into ourselves and see what needed to be set right within us.
Lent doesn’t always go as planned, and it can be hard to do this work for forty days. The messiness of life creeps in, and we can forget “prayer, fasting, almsgiving.” No matter what God gave you this Lent, let us continue to go deeply into ourselves, pondering what we do, and why we do it—continue to go to confession, to fast more deeply on Fridays. Taking even a moment to steal into our interior deserts and beginning to set things right is better than nothing. It’s sort of like cleaning: even if you don’t have time to do everything, you can pick up the socks, put the used glasses in the dishwasher, and pull the stuffed rabbit off the top of the lamp before it catches on fire. It’s not a lot. But it’s a start, or a continuation.
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” –Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I have a confession that’s not really a confession.
I have problems with confession.
I mean the sacrament of confession. And I don’t think I’m the only Catholic who feels that way.
Confession–or the sacrament of penance, or reconciliation (depending on where, and when, you grew up)–is a great, healing sacrament. It’s our chance to start over with God, to admit our sins and become right with him again. So you would think that the churches would be filled to overflowing whenever this sacrament was offered.
And for the most part, they’re not. There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I think personal fear and shame are a big part of it.
No one likes going to confession. It’s not like the other sacraments, which have a high “feel good” factor (well, except for anointing of the sick). There’s no party attached to it, no fancy clothes, no awesome ceremonies. It doesn’t mark a great passage in your life, and it’s definitely not something most people remember with scrapbook pages or blogposts. Yet, other than Eucharist and anointing, it’s the only sacrament we can receive more than once. In fact, it’s connected to Eucharist; we’re not supposed to receive the Eucharist if we’re not properly disposed (ie, in a state of mortal sin).
I had a severe dislike of confession until a few years ago. I hated going in and admitting that I had done something wrong. I hated standing in line, thinking of all the things I’d screwed up. I don’t think I’m perfect. I know I’m not. But I can’t be the only one who hates to admit that.
With Lent coming up, it’s a good time to think about confession. Why don’t we like to go? Why do we avoid it? I think many of us are like me–admitting their dirty laundry to someone else isn’t something they enjoy doing. But it’s funny. The more I go to confession (and I try to go at least once a month), the less inclined I am to sin, because that small voice in my head says, “If you do this, you have to confess it.”
That does not mean that I’ve stopped sinning. Woo boy, I have not. And I’m not doing anything huge (as in, I’m not imitating Jack the Ripper in my extracurricular activities), and certainly nothing that my confessor hasn’t heard before. But it still grinds at me to have to say the same things again and again and again. So, there’s an instinctive motivation to do better.
My confessor once said that, “sometimes our emotions get the better of us.” We’re not perfect. Jesus tells us that God wants us to be perfect, as He is perfect. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t screw up. Confession is God’s way of letting us set things right with him, and with ourselves, to clean the slate and start again.
The more often we go, the more often we let that grace work on us, the easier it is to let go of the difficult habits of sin we’ve gained. It’s a lot easier, yes, to not stand in line before Mass on Saturday, or on a weekday–to just go to lunch or go back to the office. But getting to heaven isn’t easy. Or, really, comfortable. Mother Angelica used to say something to the effect of, if you’re not bothering someone, you’re not doing Christianity right. It’s a lot easier to lie, to let go of our temper, to be unkind, to not go to Mass on Sunday morning. But that’s not what’s going to get us to Heaven.
St Paul says, “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) Work. So I work at getting myself–however grudgingly–to confession, at least once a month. I go in, slide the door shut, and admit my frailties and my foibles and all the ways I manage to screw up my relationship with God and other people. Every time, I receive absolution, the low voice of my confessor washing over me, channeling God’s grace to me on the other side of the screen. No matter how much I hate standing in line and remembering my sins, I love the feeling I get when I come out. I’ve gotten the chance to start again: clean. God gives us unlimited second chances. We just have to take them.