Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What happened to me?

Monday I sent Rhett a text that said, “18 mos ago, if I’d been someone who went to Confession on my lunchbreak, would you have thought I was a religious nut and not wanted to date me?”

Don’t read that as being pejorative, though I think he did and answered a little defensively. It wasn’t really about who he would or wouldn’t have dated at all. It was about who he was dating, because she’s not the same person she was a year and a half ago – though she often still acts like it.

A year and a half ago, I’d only been to Confession half a dozen times in my life, probably – my First Confession, and then whenever the CCD program happened to take us, which I remember being not quite once a year. I’d gone to Mass on a weekday that wasn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, too, maybe half a dozen times. More often than not, those were Fr. King’s 11:15 pm Masses during college. (RIP, Fr. King.)

And somehow, earlier this week, I found myself running to Confession on my lunchbreak* so I could be sure I could receive Communion if I was able to wake up in time to make it to daily Mass before work the next day.

“What the heck happened to me?” I wondered in a neutral way – I didn’t think of it negatively, but I also didn’t particularly think of it positively. It was just a fact, and I was confused about how that fact had come to be.

And then, at Mass the next morning (I was a couple minutes late, but I made it. I don’t know how it can be so hard to get up for work or Mass at 9am when 3 days a week I’m out the door by 6:45.), I was struck by one particular phrase. It’s astounding how God primes you for the message you need to hear, and then makes sure you get to hear it. (It is also, for the record, astounding how many things you hear over and over again without ever really hearing them.) The priest simply said, as he always does, “Lord, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.”

And it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I know that that line doesn’t apply to a particular instance of being at a particular Mass. But still – It’s a good thing to be at Mass on a weekday! I should be grateful that I’m even there! Because I should be there, and because I certainly didn’t get there on my own – we need to be grateful to God for "counting us worthy to stand in [His] presence and serve [Him] because we could never be in that position if it were left up to us. “What happened to me?” God called, and after fighting it for a while, I answered - without even realizing there was a call or that I was responding to it. Confession I felt I had to do, but Mass on weekdays? I’m still not sure how that came about.

I think, one day a couple weeks ago, I saw people heading into Mass as I was heading into work, and I thought to myself, “Oh, I could get to Mass twice a week without making myself too late for work.” So the next day – I went! Since when is being able to go to Mass any reason to actually go? This is so foreign to me, but I’d been doing it without thinking about it for several weeks – until Monday, when it occurred to me that I was doing something as unthinkable as sacrificing my lunch break, of all the important things, to go to Confession. Who am I? And do I realize how lucky I am?

*For the record, it’s impossible to get uptown, make a quick confession, and get back downtown in the course of a ½ hour lunch break, even if you think you’ve got the subways timed perfectly so you won’t be late.

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