“Bless me father for I have sinned….it has been 40 years since my last confession”. Nervously, I watched the red light on top of the confessional turn to green. I was up. The uneasiness I felt brought me back to the Monday mornings when I was called to the office of Father Jonathan, Dean of Students at Saint Anselm College. It was in those moments that I would confess my weekend sins to him. As I approached the confessional, I pulled back a heavy red curtain and entered the small dark box. I knelt down, and peered through a 12 by 12 screen, only to see a profile of a face. The smell in the tiny space was that of the old lady‘s perfume who just exited. I asked the priest to pardon me for my lack of “confessional protocol”. I began. 40 years of sin was conveyed in about 2 minutes. Did I censor my sins? I would not say censor, but I did list what I could remember, without the detail. I prayed prior to entering that box, that I would be blessed with a positive experience. I knew my conversation with this priest had a 50/50 chance to go very well, or extremely bad. God took action, the experience was perfect.
I just began what Ignatius calls the First Week of his spiritual exercises. Ignatius does not mean 7 days, but a specific movement/phase of the retreat. The First Week focuses on our experience of sin. It is also the time that I begin the daily practice of praying the Examen .. The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. With Thanksgiving a few days away, the timing of the Examen could not be better. Gratitude is a key component for this prayer, first off a thanks to God. Ignatius opens our eyes to many occasions of gratitude. He asks us to “savor” them. Fr. James Martin notes, “Savoring is an antidote to our increasingly rushed lives. We live in a busy world, with an emphasis on speed, efficiency and productivity. Life becomes and endless series of tasks.” We become “human doings” instead of “human beings.” Savoring slows us down. I find myself looking for God during the day more and more. Not only am I finding God in all things, but in all people. “Finding God by looking behind you makes it easier to see God right in front of you.” States Fr. James Martin. Heading into the holiday season, I’m grateful for for finding God, and letting God find me. God truly meets you where you are.