Fortunately, the priest who was visiting the parish was willing to hear my confession. We walked back to the church, and I sat in a pew while he went back to the reconciliation room. However, the room was locked. Why wouldn't it be, since there wasn't supposed to be any confessions that night? Fortunately again, the church was empty except for the two of us, so the priest sat down next to me and heard my confession in the pew.
This was odd for me on several levels. First off, I almost always kneel behind the screen in the confessional rather than sit in front of the priest. Second, I was kind of nervous that someone would walk into the church in the middle of my confession. Finally, after the confession, we shook hands, kind of an unusual thing for a penitent and confessor to do.
As unconventional as it was, it was also a very good and cleansing confession. Something in me, a realization that I had recently, made me talk about some sins that I confessed a long time ago, but for which I honestly never felt the proper remorse or contrition.
While I'm used to confessing to different priests, and sometimes welcome the visiting priests for the very reason that they don't know me and I can speak anonymously, I opened up to him beyond just the recitation of sins, explaining a little bit of why I fell into this sinful behavior of late. As with many of my habitual sins, it was the deformation of what was a virtue and allowing it to be twisted into a vice.
I didn't stick around for Mass, partly because I wanted to get home, but also because the particular penance the priest gave me required me to sit in quiet contemplation and meditate upon Psalm 139, one of the Penitential Psalms. There is one section of that psalm that I really concentrated on:
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me,
And thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me,
And the light about me shall be night;
Even the darkness hideth not from thee,
But the night shineth as the day:
The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
I think that is what I needed to be reminded of, that God is all-seeing, and that I cannot hide myself from Him. If my sins are an offense against God, then I need to be made aware of that, reminded of it constantly, so I will work harder to avoid that offense.