At the beginning of the year, I wrote two blog posts about an experience seeking reconciliation at the cathedral in my archdiocese. A few months later, I read an article where Pope Francis seemed to specifically address my post on confession head-on.
In my post, “Search For Redemption – Rejected By God,” which you can read here, I relate how I went to the Cathedral in my archdiocese in hopeful anticipation of reconciliation that ended in supreme disappointment on many levels. How at the end of the assigned hour the priest left 12 souls unreconciled and lost in the spiritual wilderness. How the rather rude behavior of the priest’s escort left us unreconciled souls feeling cold and abandoned. And how after my confrontation with the escort, I was transfixed and transported for a brief moment to the edge of hell. My post, “A Glimpse of Hell”, can be read here.
So naturally, when Pope Francis gave his talk to the participants at the annual course on the internal forum put on by the Apostolic Penitentiary, about the formation of good confessors, I felt vindicated.
Pope Francis insisted that confessing, “is a pastoral priority. Please, do not let there be those signs that say, “Confessions only on Monday and Wednesday at such-and-such a time”. One confesses whenever one is asked.”
Reconciliation is a life restoring sacrament, that I neglected for many years before my reversion back to the Catholic Church. I have grown to realize how important the sacrament of reconciliation is to me and the countless times durning absolution, I have felt the cool water of forgiveness wash over me, cleansing me of my sins. One time during absolution, it felt as if I was being unshackled from chains. I literally felt chains breaking away from me.
It is important to remember, we are in a spiritual battle, and one of the best defenses is the sacrament of confession. St Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Pope Frances states, “The confessor, indeed, is called every day to venture to the “peripheries of evil and sin” – this is an ugly periphery! – and his work is a real pastoral priority.” Many exorcists have stated that a good confession is more powerful than an exorcism.
The priest and penitent must work together to bring this life saving sacrament back into the main stream for all Catholics. Whatever the schedule of confession is in your parish, show up. The priests will notice the confessional lines longer and in short order extend times for confession. Priests, speak boldly, directly and lovingly in homilies about how important the sacrament of confession is for our eternity. And then, carry out that boldness by offering more opportunities for confession and then stay there until the last penitent is washed clean.
Do I really think that Pope Francis read my blog post and responded to it? Of course I do… Okay maybe not, but hey, I can dream can’t I?