Supplied for school, supplied for life

| Alyssa Bormes | September 21, 2016 | 0 Comments


School supplies in the aisle at the grocery store bring on such nostalgia. Upon seeing them, I usually want to scoop up some notebooks, pencils, erasers and, of course, a new pack of crayons. And, I’m not exactly school-aged.

Being a teacher, it seems to make sense — there will be a new class of students and returning students, and it is always wonderful to see their excitement. Even those who have a bit of trepidation in their eyes bring a smile. We have all been in their shoes.

There were years when I wasn’t in school, nor did I teach. Yet, I still felt a sense of fall being a new start. But why?

The new notebooks, the pens with unchewed caps and especially the sharp-tipped crayons are a promise, a new start. Each student begins with a lightness — well, there can be a bit of dread, too, but that points to what will be asked of him. There are assignments and tests, and the students will be given a higher bar to hurdle. But there is the wild anticipation of doing what may seem impossible — clearing the height.

All this makes me wonder if there are any other “school supply” moments in our lives when everything is suddenly new, clean, organized and ready to go. Of course there is — it’s confession.

Wait a minute! I don’t think the idea of confession makes most people excited, at least not in the school supply sense.

Ah, but I’m not talking about the idea of going; it’s the moment after confession that feels so new and full of promise. And even if you don’t feel a particular lightness, it is still there. There really is a new beginning.

We have gone to confession, in a sense, unadorned. We are no longer teacher or student, mom or dad, employer or employee. Instead, we are a penitent before Christ in the sacrament. We don’t bring our fancy, or not-so-fancy, cars or houses, our clothing may be in style or out of style, and we may or may not have people following us via social media. We are just ourselves with our sins; not the sins of anyone else, just our own.

What takes place? Well, there is the crazy mercy of having to say our sins aloud. We tell them to the priest, who is under the seal; our sins don’t leave the box. Then the act of contrition; really pray those words, really be heartily sorry. You have confessed your sins, you will do penance and you have agreed to amend your life.

What follows? The best thing, “I absolve you of your sins … .”

You are new and clean, your soul is properly ordered again, and there is promise. In a sense, you have the new notebook with its clean pages. Now for the assignment: Take the pen or the perfect crayon and write, “Fiat,” which is the “yes” of being ready for His assignment, His will for your life. And then — get on with it.

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

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Category: Everyday Mercies