Today was the family's monthly foray over to St. Ambrose for confession. Actually, it's supposed to be the first Thursday of every month, but I'm the one who's supposed to make the call to set up the appointment with Father and, well, I kept forgetting.
But! I finally remembered! So we headed off to the church this afternoon where I took a picture of the rectory's front entrance. I know it looks a bit cold with all that grey Indiana limestone -- it can make things seem a little bleak -- but whoever is in charge of the lawn and landscaping at the church always does a very nice job, with variegated greens and lots of mixed pinks, reds and purples which always brighten things up and look very lovely against the rough grey stone. The ajuga just down below those steps is just delicious.
We went in to meet Father separately, of course. He has retired from active duty because of the severity of his arthritis, but he is always the most cheerful of men and despite the fact that he wears black clericals like the rest of the priests I know, he has a strong resemblance to Friar Tuck, minus the brown Franciscan robe. Plus, he loves Shakespeare and traveled to the Stratford Festival for twenty some years in a row with a group of fellow bard-loving priests. He's seen so many plays and I'd love to spend my time with him talking about which productions he enjoyed and which ones he didn't, but I'm there for another reason, so I don't.
Today is a cold and chilly day -- welcome back, March! You didn't give us a chance to miss you! -- and I opened the door to his sitting room to find a lovely fire glowing in the fireplace and Father sitting cozily in his armchair, beaming. The room is full of comfy-looking furniture and books and books and books. His breviary sits on the end table right by his elbow, along with a Bible and The Confessions of St. Augustine and a few other books by and about the holy saints. The television is small and old-fashioned and I have a feeling I know where his priorities lie.
Confession is always the best feeling. Not the being accountable for my actions, no. It's no fun to tattle on yourself, especially face-to-face with someone you like and admire, who, by the way, is standing in persona Christi. It makes you think. A lot.
And then there's the sensing of that mystical Presence, the near-by-ness of the Holy Spirit, comforting and consoling, teaching and guiding, both me and Father.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Oddly enough, that verse from chapter twenty of John is the gospel reading for this coming Sunday, which is Pentecost Sunday. Strange that I was thinking about it, that power given to the first priests, as I went in today to see Father, gentle, kindly and good.
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