Merridith Frediani notes how a sacrament offers us the grace of a do-over.
When I was a child, on the playground there was an unspoken rule that if you messed up, whether by whiffing the kickball or whacking the four-square ball out of bounds, you could quickly call a “do-over.” We didn’t know it then but it was an act of compassion to our fellow playground athletes. We recognized that we made mistakes so we allowed each other a chance to try again.
As adults, we don’t seem to get that option. There’s no do-over in life. How many times while working on an important article have I changed or deleted the wrong thing only to find myself yelling “No! No!” and searching frantically for that backward arrow that will help me do it over? Not all software has it, and it’s a sad time when the much-needed do-over is impossible.
Then I learned about ctrl-z. It’s the secret do-over I so often need because in my haste I messed up again. And, yes, while reflecting on my great good fortune to learn about this marvelous key combination I realized that we do have a ctrl-z of sorts in life. We can’t literally do it over -- what’s done is done -- but our Father in heaven has the master do-over arrow and is willing to use it for us when we come to Him in Confession.
Unlike ctrl-z in a Word doc, where the mistake is erased as if it never happened, our actions involving others can’t be erased. The person you hurt cannot erase that event from her mind and heart. But part of our effort at making amends involves forgiveness and that’s where God helps out. When we go to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation He hits the ctrl-z combo and it’s as if our sin never happened as far as he’s concerned. We are cleansed when we humbly approach him and apologize, acknowledging that we messed up (again) and asking for forgiveness. This Sacrament is freely given and there is no lifetime quota or limit on the severity of the sin. With a proper confession, God forgives all the sins and doesn’t get tired of it.
This doesn’t give us a license to sin. Our sin is still hurtful to ourselves, others, and God but it helps us grow in holiness when we can receive forgiveness and work toward not sinning again. We can be confident that God is willing to accept us as we keep coming back -- even if we’re that one kid on the playground who needs multiple do-overs.
Our God is a God of mercy and compassion who keeps calling us to Himself out of great love for us. He believes we are wonderful and worthy. We just need to be willing to put our pride aside and ask for a do-over. This Advent, as part of your preparation for the birth of Christ, consider heading to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There will be much rejoicing in heaven.
About the Author
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. Merridith writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book, Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration, is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can read more at MerridithFrediani.com.