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To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3
Until my experience in the presence of Jesus' mercy I hadn't realized that God would (or even could) step into someone's life in such a way. Despite my Catholic upbringing, I had never heard of this happening to anyone and didn't know what to make of it. Since then, I have heard many other beautiful conversion stories and they are all miraculous to me. Some of stories that others told me included "visible" manifestations of God's love, some "invisible", but all are miraculous in that they transformed the very heart of the person.
When God returned my soul to my body, I was dumbfounded. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. You mean God wanted ME? Despite all the sin and the years away from Him?
Yes, He did want me. He loves sinners and now I understood that this love for sinners included me. I had wanted to go to Confession for quite some time but was afraid. Afraid that my sins were too numerous, too ugly, TOO MORTAL to be forgiven. I had been taught by the nuns when I was young that those who committed mortal sins went to hell. I had committed mortal sins and was going to hell. Period. (Hey, I was probably out with one of my "fake" bellyaches on the day they explained that even mortal sins could be forgiven so don't blame the nuns.)
One of the fruits of the time I spent in His Presence was the overwhelming urge to go to Confession. It was a pressing, burning desire to go. So I did go. The very next day. Only to hear, "I am sorry but I can't absolve you until you get the problem with your marriage fixed." The priest was very nice and I could tell he felt bad but it hurt because I wanted that absolution more than anything in the world right then.
One of my friends spoke to her Pastor about my situation and made an appointment with him for me. (She actually called me said, "You're going to see him and that's that!") Best thing that could have happened to me. When I spoke to him, he explained that I could go to Confession and receive absolution (with certain conditions met ) and that we could attend marriage classes at his parish.
And let me tell you...that Confession was the best ever. This was an elderly priest and I'm sure I burned his ears off that day but he never batted an eyelash. He took me through the commandments one by one and never even flinched at my muttered, "Errrr...that would be too many times to count, Father. I can't give you an exact number. Can we just say numerous times? God knows I lost track."
When I was finished we were both crying. He told me that I made his day and that THIS was the reason he became a priest.
Thank God for our priests. And thank God for good friends who don't listen to your arguments and do what is best for your soul instead.
I love you, P.