On Saturdays I like to go to Confession. Not because I have a plethora of grievous sins to own up to each week, mind you, though I certainly have my share. Even if I had none, I would still go so as to make some reparation, however insignificant in comparison with Christ's, for the little ways in which I have failed to live up to my calling to be an image of God in the order of creation. It is a fine preparation for Communion and, if you live in a parish like mine, there's never any waiting because academics are far and away too pompous to admit that they've done anything wrong, being far more interested in pointing out the faults of others. Sometimes, when I'm finished, the priest will try to chat me up, knowing full well that once I leave he'll be sitting in lonely isolation until time for the vigil Mass.
Saturday has become one of my favorite days of the week. I like it that I can humble myself before the Lord in the Sacrament of Confession, making right my wayard path. I like it that I can pray an Office in honor of Our Lady during Ordinary Time when there is no competing memorial. I like it that I can be with my family in a special way, a way that continues through Sunday and that reminds me that simply to live, to move, and to have any being at all is a blessing beyond reckoning.
Today was a particularly beautiful Saturday, too, and that can help. I was up before dawn, at about 5:45, to pray the Office and read the Martyrology. By 7:00 I was done and ready for my bike-ride. We have a very nice bike-path here in Athens County, running nearly 20 miles from the east side of Athens to the south side of Nelsonville. It travels along an old canal tow-path, which, in turn, tends to follow the Hocking River, of Harvard on the Hocking fame. I like to ride about 20 miles, so I usually head up towards Nelsonville for about 10 miles and then come back. Today the temperature was perfect for going fast, though my top speed, even on the relatively flat bike path, is really only about 25 miles per hour, a snail's pace compared to the resting speed of really serious bikers. The path goes through cool wooded areas as well as open meadows, and with the sun low in the sky and the air still moist from the cool night the ride is just about as pleasant as one could wish. You have to watch for rabbits, deer, box turtles, and other critters, but if you keep your eyes peeled you'll be OK. Other creatures are more dangerous. About a month ago I was headed up my usual route when I say a large figure in the middle of the path. The bike path is only wide enough for three bikes to go abreast, and as I approached I saw that this particular figure was effectively blocking the whole path. It was a man, laid out right across the path and snoring loudly. Beside him in the grass was his own bike, along with his backpack. I had to go off the path to get around him. As I biked back in the other direction, nearly 40 minutes later, he was still there, soundly sleeping.
The day was getting ever more beautiful, so I decided to say my Rosary out in the hammock. It just don't get no better 'n that, folks. On days like this one must simply breathe in life and be grateful.
On Saturdays I like to remember the First Covenant. The Old Sabbath day is a good day for that, I think, and the Office often reflects it, with readings that refer to God's promise to His people and in the frequent commemoration of Our Lady, the last type of the Old People and the first type of the New, a bridge between the Covenants. The Jews were Chosen to be an image of God in the world--to represent what it is to live according to God's precepts. Though they did not always succeed, they are still to be honored for this role that was so graciously given them. We, too, are called to live as Imagines Dei, living a life that is full of praise and thanksgiving to our God and Redeemer. It's difficult to think of a more fitting way to bring a day such as this to an end than by kneeling down before God's minister and offering up those ways in which we have squandered, through our fault, our own fault, our own most grievous fault, the beautiful promise that has been handed on to us.
But the natural beauty of a day like this is not, I don't think, a coal that we ought to heap upon our own head. Rather, let it serve as a promise of what awaits us in the Confessional--let it be a physical sign of the ineffable beauty of Absolution, and of a return to life as it was meant to be lived. Confession can be difficult--especially if, like me, you are sometimes embarrassed to find yourself confessing sins you've confessed many times before. But it should also be beautiful, invigorating, and cleansing, like a fine Saturday filled with the joy and love that comes of being alive in God's presence.