stained glass window
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Last week I attended a meeting after work. Training. Blah. Meetings after work strike me as a particularly heinous form of punishment. Not only are you held captive during time that is supposed to belong to you, but you are tired from working all day, and in my case driving an hour from the office at my client to my own company’s office. To make things worse, there was PowerPoint. Lots of PowerPoint.

At the meeting, we received training for an exam we would need to take with a manager. This manager is very particular and a bit of a perfectionist, which means we would have to know the material – all of it. Every last detail. There was a lot of material too. One of the other managers offered to give us a practice exam with him before we had to face the music of the real exam. We all agreed that was a nice gesture and helpful too. Still the real test was going to be a real pain.

Every time I begin feeling sorry for myself,  I call to mind the Passion and Death of Jesus – on a Cross, nails in His hands and feet, crown of thorns, scourging, spitting, mocking, gasping for breath, bleeding…Yeah, maybe I can suck it up a little. That usually helps me get off the feeling sorry for myself train.

Anyway, beyond all the usual tired, bored, rather-be-somewhere-elseness, there was another stress I was dealing with – yeah, it was Thursday and tomorrow I had planned to go to confession. It wasn’t a major stress, it was just one of those back of the mind type things – I kept thinking to myself “Don’t forget, you have to get up early tomorrow, so you can get to work early, so you can leave early, so you can get to confession right after work.“

Normally, confession is just one of those things I do whenever I think about it. I try to go frequently; otherwise, it turns into more of an ordeal if you know what I mean. I had some thoughts pop into my head, you know the type: “Hmmm, it is getting late, this meeting is going longer than I planned. I’ll be up late. It is going to be an early morning. Well, I don’t HAVE to go to confession.” Maybe it was just the tired speaking, but I found myself trying to talk me out of going to confession. This type of thing never ends well, so I try to dispel the negative thinking as soon as it shows up. Luckily, or maybe more accurately, by the grace of God, I didn’t talk myself out of going to confession.

Well, the next day, after work, I did get to confession, thanks be to God. No thanks to the guy who decided that he needed to cause gridlock by moving up into the intersection just as his light turned red. No thanks to the guy who cut me off twice on the way to the church. Yeah, I do a lot of driving. That is why I try to get to confession as often as possible. Anyway, I unloaded the spiritual baggage and moved into the pew for penance and a little reflection time.

Looking up at the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I saw lots of light streaming through. The church was dark, and all of the light in the church was coming through this one window. It reminded me of the light at the end of the tunnel you hear about when people are approaching death. It was a beautiful quiet moment. This must be a little like seeing Jesus at the end of your life. It was just Jesus and me – alone. After finishing my penance and saying a rosary to start the 54 day election novena, I began to think about what this moment meant.

I thought about what it will be like when I meet Jesus for the face-to-face when everything is said and done. What would I say? Would I say anything? Would he do all the talking? Worse yet, would he make me do all the talking? How am I going to explain everything I have done in my life? How am I going to explain all of my sins? Then it occurred to me that I have been practicing all of my life. I have been going to confession, admitting my mistakes and resolving to stop making those mistakes. It is a bit like practicing for the big game. You only get one shot, so wouldn’t it make sense to practice a few times before you take the field?

We all go to confession at least once whether we like it or not. We will all stand before God at the end of our lives to give an accounting for our actions. Why not get a little practice in beforehand?