This being Holy Week, I went to a penitential service last night, followed by Confession for the first time since Holy Week last year.
Of course, a lot has happened since last Easter, and in particular we found out that we weren't going to get pregnant without help and I agonised over making the decision to go ahead with IVF in spite of my Church's teaching.
So I was a little trepidatious about going to Confession, to say the least. I wasn't even sure if I could ask for absolution or say the Act of Contrition, because to do either of those things, you have to promise that you'll try not to sin again - and if doing IVF is a sin, then I had every intention to sin again.
I explained the situation to the priest, and said I knew the Church taught that it was wrong, but I saw it as a medical solution to a medical problem, that we had made sure no embryos were discarded in the process, and that because it had failed the first two times, we were planning to do it again.
I then waited for him to tell me he wasn't able to absolve me. He was hearing Confessions at the front of the church, in full view of the congregation, and I wondered if I would be able to get out of the church before the tears began and I made a complete fool of myself.
This priest is a man for whom I have great respect. He is holy, thoughtful, and you can tell that he puts a lot of thought and a lot of love for God and for his congregation into his sermons. He paused a while before he spoke, and I knelt there trembling.
And then he said that he thought I had misunderstood the Church's teaching. That if we had a medical problem, it was not sinful to seek medical treatment for it, as long as we made sure that human life was respected in the process.
And then he said, "I want you to have more faith in God's love and His forgiveness." And I did cry, but they were tears of happiness and relief.