Are you feeling lucky?

A letter to the editor in a magazine I was reading recently caught my eye. What struck me most about the letter was how it made me realize just how much we as Catholics take for granted and how quickly we dismiss the great gift we have in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Few take advantage of the opportunity to ask for God’s mercy, to clear the conscience and cleanse the soul.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Most of us would be uncomfortable without a daily shower or bath to cleanse our bodies yet we find ourselves hard-pressed, reluctant to cleanse our souls. Ask a Catholic why they do not go to confession either regularly or infrequently and you will hear as many reasons as there are those who refuse to enter the confessional. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to fully counter the “Catholic” penitential reluctance.

The letter writer, a Catholic priest, wrote of an encounter he once had with a Jewish gentleman on a lengthy bus trip. At each stop the man would make a phone call and then disappear for a time. Curiosity finally made him inquire as to what he was doing. The man told him of his brother, now long deceased, to whom he had refused to offer financial assistance when his brother was dying of a serious disease. He spoke of the terrible guilt that he had carried over the years because of his refusal.

During the stops the man had been calling counselors and meeting with them to help assuage his longstanding sense of shame and guilt. Finally the man said, “How I wish I believed as you Catholics do, that I could confess to a priest and my guilt would be removed. Father, when you get back home, tell your parishioners that they are the luckiest people in the world, because they can go to confession to you, convinced that they are now forgiven and the guilt has been removed! How I wish I could believe as you Catholics do![1]

I read somewhere that Pope Saint John Paul II regularly (weekly) received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I have often wondered exactly what sins one so saintly could possibly have had to confess. Following a similar train of thought, I have always found it amusing to see young children enter the confessional for their First Reconciliation. I try to imagine the dark and terrible sins that those so young might have committed and my imagination simply fails me.

A few years ago I witnessed a Confirmation class being sent to Reconciliation. Their reluctance was apparent and palpable but given little choice they entered the confessional. The transformation upon receiving absolution was striking and visible both in their demeanor and their desire to continue to cleanse their souls of the dirt and grime of sin.

We hesitate in baring our innermost feelings of shame and failures to another. We each have our reasons, our excuses for not kneeling before God’s representative and asking for forgiveness. But which is harder to bear: the weight of sin on your soul or the loss of God’s mercy and love. Think about it. Are you feeling lucky?


[1] Father Peter Voelker, CSsR, How I wish I could believe as Catholics do!, Catholic Answers Magazine, March-April 2015.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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