Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Priests Need Confession

A sure sign of faith and Christian fervor is the frequency and intensity with which the Christian people approach the font of mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Conversely a sign of a crisis of faith is the lack of it's celebration.

If this is true for the faithful, how much more true it is for priests, for their priesthood must exemplify the Christian life of faith and the Sacraments.

Recently, the Congregation of Clergy produced a document entitled, "The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: an Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors." Quoting Blessed Pope John Paul II, it says,
The priest's spiritual and pastoral life, like that of his brothers and sisters, lay and religious, depends for it's quality and fervor, on the frequent and personal practice of the Sacrament of Penance. The priest's celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the other sacraments, his pastoral zeal, his relationship with the faithful, his communion with his brother priests, his collaboration with the bishop, his life of prayer - in a word, the whole of his priestly existence, suffers an inexorable decline if by negligence or for some other reason he fails to receive the Sacrament of Penance at regular intervals and in a spirit of genuine faith and devotion.

The moments in my short priestly life where I have felt the closest to God, most penetrated with his divine and unrelenting love, were those days where I spent most of my time hearing confessions. It seems here that the Levitical priesthood of animal sacrifice is a type or shadow of Christian priesthood, whereas the priests of old received the choicest portions of the sacrifices of bulls and goats, now he receives the choicest graces of mercy and reconciliation with God. It as if the priest, holding up to heaven in the eucharistic chalice, the Sacramental representation of the Blood of the Immaculate Lamb, it must first spill over onto his own head, into his own life, touching first and transforming his own humanity before it flows out to touch others in a veritable river of Mercy that soon becomes an ocean. So it is with the sacrament of confession. To put it plainly, at times I feel confession is like the abyss of divine Mercy floods a penitent's soul after having passed through the soul of the priest. Let me attempt to express this in words with an image. It is as if an endless and infinite ocean of God's grace had to first pass through the garden hose of a priest's very frail humanity in a few brief moments. For this reason, there have been times while in the midst of celebrating or dispensing this sacrament, I have felt as if I were to die of love, of having to channel too much infinite goodness through the wretchedness of my own poor heart.

Personally, I find it necessary to approach this sacrament every few days, for it is not just as some mistakenly claim, merely a "sin-washing machine" but an encounter with my Father, my Abba, who loves me so much that he desires to free me of even the slightest sin or obstacle to his love.

May Our Lady, Mother of Mercy and Queen of the clergy, obtain for us the renewal of the celebration of the sacrament of divine Mercy, especially among priests.

1 comment:

  1. Father, I read "The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: an Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors." last week and found it to be a beautiful resource for understanding confession & spiritual direction ...and very quotable. Your explanation of the garden hose is very moving. God Bless you now & forever.