On Saturday we will be celebrating our eldest son's First Confession. It is a joyful occasion that we are all looking forward to. For the first time he will experience the tender compassion of our God is a concrete, sacramental way.
This morning I was praying as I prepared for work and I asked God what sort of gift I should give Anthony for this event. I had been planning on going to the local Catholic bookstore to look for something, I don't know what. After I asked about the gift I simply heard, "a compass."
I thought for a moment that maybe I have been reading too much manly stuff lately and it was spilling over into my prayers. I thought it would be a good gift but, is it practical, will he use it, will it just get lost in the bottom of the toy box? I mean, after all he is only 7 years old. The answer was persistent. A Compass.
As I drove to work I asked again and the answer was the same. So, I detoured my path and stopped at Kmart to find a compass. As I pulled into the parking lot it dawned on me to ask, "why, why a compass?" The answer was simple. If you are lost, you need something that can point you in the right direction. Being in sin is the same as being lost. If you are in sin, you have lost your bearings and direction. Confession is the compass that can point you back in the right direction, toward True North, toward Christ. Once you go to Confession, you have your bearings back and you can continue on your journey toward Christ.
I bought a nice compass and then stopped at the Catholic bookstore for another gift that I know he will love too. It is a book by Andrew and Lenora Lang, The Book of Saints and Heroes and from glancing through it, it appears to be a book that will excite the heart and imagination of any boy. The cover alone is enough to excite a boy's heart! A compass to remind him to always follow Christ and have recourse to Confession, and a book about those men and women who used that compass often seem to me to be great gifts for this young boy entering the journey of a lifetime.