I’m from a big family, and there are so many blessings that come with that. One of my favorite things is that our family is constantly changing and growing with each new marriage and birth. This past weekend I became an aunt again for the 6th time. I was so excited about this new addition to our family and I was thinking about how lucky that little girl is (and not only cause she has me as an aunt). When baby Hailey opened her eyes and stretched out her arms in this big new world, she was seeing and experiencing everything for the first time. She didn’t have to worry about a fight she had with her mom last week that was never resolved. She wasn’t heavy with the guilt from the mistakes of yesterday, last week, last month, or last year! Then, when she was baptized, all her original sin was washed away; she really started over with a clean slate. How amazing would that be for us? How often do we all wish we could just rewind and start over; take back those words…choose the narrow path…think twice before saying yes to sin…again.
And then the “aha” moment came. The light bulb turned on. And I smiled.
I was excited when I thought about three ways that God renews us in the sacraments:
- Baptism. It doesn’t end when all the water is poured out over our head. The effects of baptism are that original sin is washed away, we become a child of God, and become an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven. These things are as permanent as a Sharpie. The church even gives this permanent effect a name; it’s called an “Indelible Mark”(CCC 1272). There’s nothing we can do to make us less of a child of God, or remove our right to our home in heaven.
- Confession. When we confess our sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation, they are wiped away. Forever. God is outside of time and He never holds onto how we’ve hurt him in the past. When we walk out of that confessional, He sees us as new and innocent as a little baby. Can we? We have to use our will to claim the truth and beauty of who we are so we can see ourselves the way God does.
- Eucharist. Did you know that every time you receive the Holy Eucharist, your venial sins are forgiven? The Catechism says “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.” (CCC 1394) Reconciliation is still necessary for both big and little sins, but the grace of the Eucharist means that we can experience the freedom of forgiveness and a renewed strength for our daily battle.
We are the ones that hold onto our past, not God. Every new day is a fresh start in which we can ask for the Holy Spirit’s anointing to help us chose God above sin. We all have the capability to live in the freedom of knowing the past can be just that – past. Over. Gone. And suddenly, waking up in the morning is like a new birth; the same clean slate we had the day we opened our eyes and stretched out our arms in this big, new world.