Ask Not for Whom the Horn Sounds…
Have you ever watched a live ice hockey game? It is the most exciting game I have ever witnessed. The action is strong and powerful, yet graceful and smooth. I love the whooshing of the skates, the clacking of the sticks, and the phenomenal switch from forward racing to backward skating in the blink of an eye.
In our house these days, the armchair coaching has risen to a rather high decibel level, so I really don’t watch many games anymore. I keep an ear out from a neighboring room. Even so, it’s a thrill to hear my family roar with excitement at a goal made, especially when it is on our team’s home ice. For those unfamiliar with ice hockey, an obnoxiously loud horn blares when the home team scores a goal. Each NHL team even has its own distinct horn sound.
…It Sounds for Thee
Yet while my family cheers along with the home crowd, I always feel a tinge of sympathy in my heart for the visiting team’s goalie. With the loud blare of the horn, it is brought — front and center to the thousands of spectators, his coach, his teammates, and himself — that HE. MESSED. UP. The goalie’s job is to guard the goal, and a puck slipped by him. Sometimes, truly, it isn’t his fault, such as when his own teammate screened him, and he couldn’t see the puck coming. But ultimately, he is the last defense, and the bottom line is, he failed.
From Horns to Holiness
This brought to my mind how good our God is in the institution of the Sacrament of Penance. Through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, He reopened the gates of Heaven to poor mankind. Through this sacrament, He calls us to return to Him in privacy and peace. Our Lord waits for us in the confessional, in the person of the priest, with love and a longing to forgive our sins. He doesn’t blow a trumpet before us to showcase our failings for all the world to see.
What he does require, though, is that we approach the Sacrament with full contrition and a firm purpose of amendment. So simple — but many times, not easy. When one’s predominant fault is pride, approaching the Sacrament of Penance can be a very uncomfortable task. Yet when I think of the poor visiting goalie, I thank God for His love and care in this wonderful, approachable Sacrament, wherein we discreetly confess our sins and receive absolution and grace to begin again. The score card goes from negative back to zero.