Tom McGrath is back in the land of the unretreated, (although I’ve yet to see him), and so I want to get back to our blog-alogue. He left me with this doozie of a question:
I’ve heard you talking about how much you enjoy hearing Confessions. What about it appeals to you?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I used the word “enjoy.” What I think I’ve said is that hearing Confessions is my favorite thing to do as a priest. In fact, if I had my absolute druthers, I would go to one of our city center churches and spend the rest of my life doing nothing else but hearing Confessions.
You want to know why… So many people have had horrible experiences with this Sacrament. Heck, as a teenager, (for obvious reasons) I had a miserable time. I once had a priest say, “It’s my duty to inform you that you are going to Hell.” When I began studies for the priesthood, I made a vow that, if ordained, I would never, ever be mean, confrontational or punitive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Overshadowing my bad experiences with the Sacrament, I’ve also had incredibly affirming, loving and healing encounters with God in Penance and I yearn to help facilitate that same joy for others.
It is never easy, never pleasant to sit or kneel in front of another person and own up to your sinfulness and shame. You’d have to be at least a little odd to get a kick out doing that (or listening to that – hence my denial of “enjoyment.”) But, when entered into with a spirit of repentence and desire for reconciliation, it is the most sacred of moments, the most holy ground, a place and a space where God is eagerly waiting for us, just like the father of the Prodigal Son.
Confession is a time to be reassured [once more] of God’s boundless love. What’s not appealing about that?