Now that I know what Catholic Charities of California is and does, I feel I am qualified to do the job. Ha-ha. I wish this was true. On the other hand, this has been too interesting to give in. So I keep talking to Shan, and asking questions. And she goes back to Italy, to spend time with an American friend who is now living in Rome. I can picture her: sitting on the back seat of a Vespa, both her legs on the same side, speeding along the slippery pavement of the city under the warm sun – very much Roman-Holiday-like. And that is probably why I picture her this way: too much TV!
As she talks, she comments on the post about her confession that took place several years ago. She tells me a very close friend of hers in Rome, went to confession after 45 years. He experienced love, and mercy, and came back to the Church. She is extremely surprised and happy at the same time. She tells me, confession seems to be a recurring theme in her life.
And, I have noticed, it seems to be happening to people around me as well.
While Shan was traveling, I took some days off myself to go to the mountains with my husband and our friends. It was a beautiful place, and we were in the company of our community. So it happened that one night there, talking to a friend, I asked her how she ended up in this company of friends. So she told me her story. And the starting point is confession. She told me she went to confession after years without going. She went because she was planning to get married in the church, and she thought she should do it. That is all. Yet, it was not. Just like it happened to Shan, after many words and tears, she was given a penance. The father asked this friend to teach catechism. She told me she remembered almost laughing at it, and wondering what she might teach, given that she did not even really go to church. But she said “yes”, just like Shan, and showed up at the parish on the night she was supposed to start teaching. And that night – in that place – she met a small group people, who were actually not there for the catechism, who eventually brought her back to the church, and gave her back her faith, which is now firm; rock-solid.
It looks like confession is the place where miracles happen. The Pope has asked that we consider going to confession during this Holy Year. As he said, “God forgives all. God understand us, even in our limits, and understands us even in our contradictions.” There should be no fear then, or embarrassment, or God knows what, as I sometimes feel; just a heart that is open to live the miracle of mercy, the miracle of life beginning again.