Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to a priest who travels around the country engaging Catholics in weeklong missions. My sister and I traveled to an itty- bitty town on the prairie of Kansas, and as I walked in the church, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the beautiful day, and for a wonderful church family. This wasn’t my home church, but I was struck with a feeling of connectedness, hope, and love as I took a seat in my pew.
Tonight, Father Pete focused on reconciliation. Now, as a Catholic, I’ve never quite known how to defend our practice of using a priest to go to confession. All of my Protestant friends just can’t understand this. They’re always wondering, “Why do you use a priest when we each have a direct hotline to God? Why tell a human being what’s you and God’s business?”
Hopefully Father Pete’s wisdom can help answer some of these questions! Tonight, Father Pete said he was cutting the “hotline.” He asked each of us, “If you think you can use your “hotline” to talk to God about your sins, then soon it’s easy to say, Why have a priest marry you? Use the hotline! Why have your child baptized in a church? Just use the hotline! Why call in a priest to anoint the sick? Use the hotline!” See where he’s going with this?
Reconciliation is a gift from our Creator. It is a time to reflect on the sins that are disconnecting us from God by making us less and less Christ-like. Once a Catholic priest receives his holy orders, he becomes our “hotline” to God. When you talk to a priest in a confessionary, it is like talking to Jesus himself. The priest is like the mailman. He takes our letters marked with our trespasses, sorts them, and sends them to their caretaker. Just as it’s illegal to read others’ mail, the priest has no intention of diving into our spiritual matters. In fact, priests are usually granted a grace that allows them to forget the sins of all of us trespassers.
Additionally, Father Pete encouraged us to play doctor tonight, and diagnose our spiritual problem. He pointed out that most people tend to simply confess symptoms, including such things as being impatient with loved ones, not saying our prayers, judging others, being quick to get angry, etc. However, these are simply the symptoms of a spiritual disease. There’s a reason we act the way we do. We have to dig deeper in our souls to diagnose our real problems. Is it pride? Jealousy? A lack of humility? Father Pete said we’ll take our spiritual disease to the grave, but we don’t have to sit back and let it kill us. Until we properly diagnose our problem, we can’t find a solution. The entire church’s penance tonight was to pick a relationship and do something nice for that person to love them a little bit more.
What a powerful message! Instead of fearing going to confession, let’s try to celebrate it because it will only bring us that much closer to the peace found when walking with the Lord. May the grace of God work in all of our hearts as we diligently work on our earthly beings so that someday He may say to each of us, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” God bless each of you, and thanks for letting me share!
Wishing you a wonderful end to your week!