Today, we welcome Jeanine Spano back with a post that wraps up the guest series on Advent. I know it’s not Advent any longer, but I scheduled her for this week and asked for an Advent post. What she shares touches me and is a great message, so, though it’s not Advent any longer, I’m still sharing it, with the hope that you will grow from it as I did.

I started investigating and attending Mass with my best friend (now my husband), Jason, in April, 2007. I had such a longing for the sacraments. After speaking with our pastor and several one-on-one catechesis sessions along with independent study, he brought me into the Church that September.

I was not Christian before coming into the Church. I had never been baptized, and the time leading up to my baptism was very hard for me. I went early to Mass to pray and when Jason would stand in line for confession I felt an incredible yearning to be able to go. In all honesty I wanted confession and absolution more than the Eucharist at that point. Don’t get me wrong: I desperately wanted to receive Our Lord bodily, but I knew that I was in no way prepared. I knew that I had 20 years of sins to repent from before I could receive Him.

When I was received into the Church, I was baptized. That meant that all my sins were washed clean. That meant that in all His grace and mercy He had cleansed me of my sins and I had to do nothing to make up for them.

Going into my first Advent as a full Catholic, I was ecstatic to find that it’s a time of penance. I had a chance to do some penance for the sins of my past, and even though it was not necessary, I knew that I had offended Him for the greater part of my life and my heart hurt because of it. I needed this time of year to prepare myself to celebrate the birth of Our Lord. I needed to tell Him again and again how sorry I was for having hurt Him and the preparation time of Advent gave me that chance.

That Advent I attended my first Penance Service and had my first face-to-face confession. There is something humbling about being looked in the eye by the priest, in persona Christi.

That first Advent I learned the importance of realizing that while we can’t “earn” our salvation. We need to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the coming of Christ on Earth. He humbled himself to be born man to save us, so can’t we humble ourselves to do penance for having made it necessary?

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