LETTER TO A FREQUENT COMMUNICANT
THERE IS A DANGER, I think, for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion frequently that we can begin to take it for granted. I know that when I have not been able to go to Communion for a couple of weeks I look forward to the first occasion afterwards for several days beforehand and drive to church with an intense longing and an excited awe that, I regret to say, is often lacking once I have got back into my usual routine.
This awe and excited anticipation that one is about to meet Our Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament is perhaps more easily understood by those who take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. "Sacramental confession can be a meeting with Jesus as wonderful and decisive as meeting him in Holy Communion" wrote Michael Ramsey and if this aspect of confession were stressed more often I suspect there would be a rise in the number of those seeking it.
Of course there are many other aspects to this sacrament (as to the others). It is obviously not easy to say aloud to another person things of which you are ashamed, but if you consider it for a moment it would seem arrogant to think that the priest has nothing else to do afterwards than to think about your sins! In any case once you have received absolution they are over and the priest is fully aware of that. I think too you would be showing a very low opinion of the priest if you did not believe that a little of the compassion and mercy of God had rubbed off on him, that he had not at least begun to make his own the mind of Christ Jesus.
We live in an age of indiscipline: the discipline is no doubt good for us; the counsel given may be hugely helpful; but if you think of sacramental confession above all as a meeting with Our infinitely loving and merciful Lord in as wonderful and complete a way as in the Eucharist, you cannot surely want to stay away from this sacrament, and because even a frequent penitent is unlikely to go to confession nearly as often as he or she receives Holy Communion there is no danger of the awe disappearing and its becoming a matter of routine. Do give it some thought this Lent.
With good wishes and my prayers.
Jane Gore-Booth is a married and mother of two children
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