There is a beautiful little Church in Menlo Park, California where my husband and I often go for Confession on Saturday morning. We are new Catholics and Confession is a beautiful part of our new faith. Church of the Nativity has 24/7 Adoration and there is always a sweetness of the Presence of the Lord. AM Confession is scheduled from 10 to 12 noon. The line is always long; we are often there until after 12:30, yet people are still waiting when we leave. There seems to be no hurry . . . as it should be. So many young people, young adults, families, young couples who date, children or just adults — all coming to draw closer to God — one by one.
Last week I had the most beautiful experience -It was not only about my own Confession this time. I normally spend some time preparing for Confession, returning to confess the same besetting sins and discovering newfound sins, then I move over to the far side aisle where we stand in line for our time with the priest, and our LORD, who is always waiting. Because of a leg injury, I cannot stand for long periods of time. When I move to the side aisle I usually stand until I am tired and then sit, move back as the line moves, standing in my ‘spot’ then sitting again.
This last Saturday there was a young father, about 40, and his son, about 14, in the line directly behind me. They are the reason for my story. I moved along with them as the line progressed – always standing and sitting near them. I was reading my book on Confession by Hahn and looking at my notes written in the margins – still preparing for Confession and Reconciliation.
From time to time I would notice this father and son. I was about one arm’s length from them. I could have touched the father. Instead, he touched me.
The father was reading a book on Joan of Arc; the son had the Magnificat and something else. They were quiet – respectfully silent. Although the son was not distracting, I was aware of his movement as he was checking the stain glass windows with his fingers. Once he asked his father something and he nodded – the boy left the building and returned. The line had not moved. There was an exchange of a whispered word or two between the father and boy, a knee jab or three, a smile, an “almost” wink and yet they were about the business of waiting respectfully. You could sense such sweetness in their relationship. I was physically very close to them, sitting or standing.
Time passed, a long time, without any of us moving, then – the most beautiful thing happened. It just happened! The father put his book down close to me, looked upward, and then dropped quietly to his knees in the small side aisle by my seat. He was inches from me.
I caught my breath. It was lovely. The young father covered his face with his hands – and I found I was caught in his realm of prayer. Literally. I was so close to this father that I felt the Spirit as we were both encompassed in the bubble. I could not look away; I would not have tried to move away.
I could hardly breathe. The father rubbed his face with his hands. I have no idea how long this time was – I am sure the heavens stood still. Then I looked up and saw the young son looking at his father – not in amazement – but looking at his father seeing a holy man. I thought to myself, “Young man, you will never forget this moment. You will never forget this man you call “Dad” as long as you live. You will tell your children of this man and your children’s children of this man. You are blessed!”
At that moment I believe my life changed forever. I am not sure yet exactly what happened to me in all of this but I know something happened to me. It became part of my Confession . . . the seeking for holiness. I was strongly aware that holiness begins inside a man or woman. Holiness has to work inside you before you begin the journey from holiness to Godliness. This time, I actually felt it through another person. I was “caught” in the holiness of another.
I thought of those words of God, “Be ye holy as I am holy.” It is a command. “Be ye holy as I am holy.” It can be done – we are told to do this. The world makes no difference – people make no difference – situations make no difference – you drop to your knees before the Father – just as this father did – you drop to your knees and experience holiness. It is only about you and God. Nothing keeps you away. Nothing else matters – “Be ye holy as I am holy.”