I know what it’s like to walk on the dark side, to feel so lost and confused and utterly without hope that you can ever get “right” with God.
For the first 25 years of my life, I was convinced that I was going to hell. I had no memories of ever being acceptable to God — not even as a little girl.
My first conscious memories of God are of when I was six or seven years old, preparing for First Confession and First Holy Communion. The good nuns taught us, wee as we were, about mortal sin and venial sin and Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. I understood, even at that early age, that to conceal a mortal sin in confession was a very grave sin, and to receive Jesus in such a state was a horrible offense called a sacrilege.
Extremely sensitive, painfully shy and serious beyond my years, I absorbed every word the good sisters taught me. And I believed with all my heart.
As I prepared for First Confession, I scrupulously examined my brief life, and my delicate conscience unearthed many sins which I thought must surely be mortal.
When the dreaded day arrived, I stood in line with my classmates outside the confessional. My palms were wet, my heart pounded and my stomach churned. I was terrified, and wondered what would happen when I told the priest how bad I had been.
Unable to bear the crushing fear, I made a decision which would affect the next 18 years of my life. I decided not to confess what I thought were mortal sins I was too afraid. I could barely speak.
And so, I exited the confessional with one fear replaced by a much greater one. I had committed a sacrilege. I was doomed. There was no way out for me. I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone what I had done.
First Holy Communion was anything but a happy day for me. It was another mortal sin, another sacrilege. To this day, I have no memory of that first encounter with Jesus. I only recall that I was terrified of what might happen when I dared to received God into my sinful soul.
And yet, my heart broke, because I felt drawn to this mysterious God and especially to His Son whom I had often seen on the Cross at school and in my home.. I knew Jesus had died for me, and I wanted to be His friend, but now He would never want anything to do with me. And I cried hot tears in secret, alone in my terror and despair.
It was all over for me. The weight of the world fell on my small shoulders. I was seven years old, and already on my way to hell.
(to be continued…..that the Kindness, Goodness and Merciful Love of God may be exalted!)