Not long after Jodi and I were married, I found myself sitting beside her at Mass with more questions than answers about why I was coming every week, but refusing to resume receiving the sacraments. I had been baptized Catholic as an infant, and had made my First Reconciliation and First Communion as a tween, but had not grown up in the faith. I had a few doubts, a dozen objections, and a hundred excuses — but fatherhood changes a guy, and I was struggling with the fact that what I loved about my wife (her strong and solid faith) I was as yet unwilling to commit to myself.
Our priest at St. Michael Catholic Church in Remus, Michigan, changed all that. I asked Fr. Bill if I could meet with him one evening, and we talked for a couple of hours or more. I dumped my doubts, issues, concerns, and questions in the middle of the floor of the rectory living room, and he helped me pick through them awhile.
Finally he said, “Jim, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. God gave you that brain, and he wants you to use it. But you aren’t going to find the answers to all your questions if you hold your faith away from you and examine it at a distance. You need to embrace it and look at it up close. You should consider going to confession and resume receiving the Eucharist.”
He smiled. “If you like, I can hear your confession right now.”
“I dunno,” I said. “It’s been a long time…I don’t even remember how.”
“Don’t worry,” Fr. Bill said. “I can help you through it.”
After another half-hour or more, I floated home to my bride, a goofy smile on my face. I have not lived my faith perfectly in the days since that second “First” Confession, but I am always amazed at how wonderful it feels to receive God’s mercy through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
A couple weeks ago, a dear friend in Michigan sent me a copy of Faith magazine from the Diocese of Grand Rapids. On the cover was Fr. Bill, older and balding, but with the same kindly smile. The title of the article? “God is Madly in Love with You: Fr. Bill Zink and the Sacrament of Confession.” It’s a great reminder to practicing and fallen-away Catholics that God loves us — and a reassuring pledge that there is nothing to fear from this blessed sacrament.
Read it and share it, if you feel called — and thank you, Father, for calling me back into the Light!