Angelina will be receiving her first holy communion on the Feast of Corpus Christi at Sunday Mass in our parish. We have been preparing all year and she is getting excited. To get ready, Angelina will first receive the sacrament of confession and then her first communion. The other day, we were studying and I asked her what does the priest do during confession. She stands up, puts her right index finger in the air, clears her throat and exclaims, "He dissolves you from your sins!" Did I mention she is the Yogi Berra of the family?
So, we go back to Illinois for my nephew Jonny's first communion. Angelina's godfather, Fr. Beekman, is pastor of several parishes about 90 minutes away from where we will be staying. He generously offered to take the drive out and hear his goddaughter's first confession. It needs to be very early on Saturday, because he has obligations all the other time we will be out there. We get to IL on a Thursday night. The kids don't sleep very well on Friday because they are overtired. We wake up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and meet Fr. Beekman at a restaurant for breakfast. The kids are like zombies. We haven't seen him in over 2 years and they sit in a stupor when he walks in. Because they are so tired, breakfast is very subdued.
After gorging ourselves on eggs, hashbrowns and every other breakfast food known to man, and several trips to the restroom, we head over to the church. It is not yet 9 a.m. and Angelina is very sleepy. Her cheeks are bright red, which happens when she is tired. She looks a bit nervous. Fr. Beekman reminds her of the special words to say when you are too nervous in confession: "Father, help me, I'm stuck." I give her a kiss and she follows Fr. B into the confessional. I kneel down in front of the tabernacle and pray for my family while I wait. I hear the door open and Angelina walks out. "How'd you do, sweetie?" I ask. She bursts out crying. I am shocked. "What's wrong?" I ask. "Nothing," she bawls. "If there is something wrong I need to help you fix it...please tell me," I say, wondering what in the world could possibly be upsetting her. Then I give her a a long, silent hug and she calms down enough to whisper, "I forgot..." "Yes?" I prompt. Then she sobs, "I FORGOT MY PENANCE!!!" Oh! The poor thing! The exhaustion made her feel like it was the end of the world. "Would you like me to go ask Fr. Beekman?" She nods. I go into the confessional and tell Fr. B what's going on and he tells me her penance. I go back to where she is waiting and tell her which prayers to say. She smiles a teary smile and then goes into the pew and kneels down.
Today she is no worse for the wear. Angelina is working on a thank you note to her godfather and she says she wants to go again soon to confession. Next time, we'll get more sleep.
**For clarification on what on earth the sacrament of penance is, click on the title of this post.