How Sweet it is…

I don’t know if it’s universal youth slang yet, but the kids at St Joseph’s use the word ‘sweet’ for ‘that’s cool!’ I’ll tell you what’s sweet…

I have been a Catholic priest now for two months. It is the most amazing and wonderful gift. Brothers, do not fail to respond to God’s call to be a priest! The question in your mind should not be, “Me??” but “Why not me??”

Hearing confessions is the most precious gift. How sweet it is when a sixth grade girl, a busy housewife, an eighteen year old boy, an old man or a successful businessman simply come to God on their knees. At that moment heaven opens and the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents.

The reason confession is so precious is because it is so simple, so honest and so real. When you come to confession you have to leave behind all the pretense, all the worldly attainments, all the self deception and vanity. Even a bad confession brings the person closer to the simplest part of the gospel–getting down on our knees and saying, “Help Lord!”

Isn’t this the most honest, the most basic and most dignified of human responses to life? What else is there? Striving for worldly success and status? Do you know what? The people who respect that won’t respect you, and the people who respect you won’t respect you for that.
Do you want money, power and security? Remember they don’t put pockets in shrouds.
Are you attempting to ‘have it all together’ to be strong, self sufficient and self righteous? Who do you think you’re fooling?

In confession all that is left behind. In confession we have clarity and depth of vision. We see clearly. We see ourselves clearly. We see the world clearly. We see God clearly. This is the way it is.

Do you want an instant A+ in Reality 101?

Hit the confessional.

  • Julie D.

    As the mother of a high school and college student … that’s well established slang. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Father,I left the Church when I was 14 & haven’t been to confession in almost 10 years. Recently I’ve felt more & more compelled to go back to confession but am worried about what the priest will say to me when I confess, as he knows me,him being my former teacher.I turned against the church when the scandals hit & I know he will be shocked by what I confess to him. I’m praying for God to give me strength to face him before Easter.I wanted to ask what goes through your mind when your hear confessions of someone you know very well?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    When I hear the confession of someone I know, it is an intimate and beautiful thing. They may think that I consider them a sinner. Guess what? I thought that already. Instead of feeling shame of them, I am full, very full of admiration. Here is a person who has the guts not only to make their confession, but to do so face to face with someone they know. Wow! Go for it. He will receive you with pity and not with blame, with admiration and not with shame.

  • Tim

    anonymous, as Father Dwight said, go for it. You’ll be surprised at the weight that will leave your shoulders after you have made your confession. Confession is a wonderful gift.

  • Mark

    Yup; it’s even slang here! I can sympathise with anonymous. I am going to have to make my first confession soon. I’m resolved to not shirk from making a good one, even if it’s tough.

  • kkollwitz

    I hadn’t been to confession in about 15 years, finally dragged myself in by the ear. Told the priest (he knew me) it had been 15 years. He said, “Welcome back.” Remember how the Prodigal Son’s father responded to his son’s repentance: the time away didn’t matter, only the broken & contrite heart the father didn’t spurn.Personally, I prefer face to face confession with a priest who knows me. I think it’s more humbling, and reinforces the Seal of the Confessional.

  • DilexitPrior

    Thank-you for reminding us of the beauty of this great Sacrament of Mercy. I was discussing with a friend yesterday about how utterly amazing it is that no matter how far you wander from the Church or how sinful a life you’ve led, Christ is always waiting for you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and desires to welcome you home with open arms. It’s encouraging to know that no matter how far you get off track you can walk into any Roman Catholic Church and go to confession and God will pick you up from the dust.(By the way, I really enjoy your blog and have added you to my blog roll. . . I hope you don’t mind.

  • Esther

    Rally good post Father. One of the books I wanted to read this Lent was 101 Inspirational Stories of Reconiliation. Unfortunately, Pauline Books and Media were out so I picked up 101 Inspirational Stories of the Priesthood instead.

  • UltraCrepidarian

    I went to confession today. I prayed before I went in, and I felt lead to think of a particular aspect of allowing Christ into my life, at those moments when I am on the verge of making a bad decision, heading back to an old vice, spoiling for another round of hurt, when I could be inviting the grace of God in. Well, the priest listened to my confession, and as if lead by something (the Holy Spirit?) he spoke exactly about that, though I had said nothing about my pre-confessional prayers. It was like an electric shock. The Lord is merciful, and with him there is redemption, and healing for sinners! What a gift priests have. It is a privelege indeed to be called to be a Catholic priest. If I wasn’t 100% sure my vocation was elsewhere, I would be beating down doors to sign up to be a priest. I think it’s quite possibly the most amazing thing anyone can be in this life. It’s not what you do, it’s what you are. Ontological difference, they call it, or something. :-)Warren

  • Jeffrey Smith

    I’ve been hearing young people use the word “sweet” for several years now. Probably started while you were in England.Anonymous: Good for you. You’re on the right track.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you all for your words of encouragement, especially to you Father.

  • Rev. Daren J. Zehnle

    If I might add to what Father has already said, I want to add my own admiration for those who make use of the sacrament.If any priest recognizes himself as he is – as one sinner among many – then he can only be humbled to hear the confessions of others.I am always deeply grateful to the Lord when a penitent kneels down and says “It has been X years since my last confession.” I, too, will often say, “Welcome back.” I then – as a way to help discern a fitting penance – often ask “what brought you back?”Not only does this help determine an appropriate penance, but I think it often maintains focus on the infinite mercy of God.My prayers are with you, Anonymous!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your prayers & I’m thankful to have discovered this wonderful blog.

  • Anonymous

    I almost wish you could go to confession via the internet. :-)As a 65 year old woman I’m totally embarased to go to confession because my main sin is of the self gratification (the “m” word). I can hardly say it myself let alone say it to some young “wipper snapper” priest. What’s you words of encouragement to get over this fear. Do you hear of this very much?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    regarding self gratification, I would advise an open hearted specific admission of guilt in the confessional combined with the realization that the devil wants us to think the sins we find most shameful are the worst sins. Usually they’re not. The sins of pride are worse. Do you see the trick? If he can keep you from confessing a shameful physical sin through pride then he’s got you on both the shameful physical sin and he’s got you on pride too. Better to just brace yourself, get into the confessional and get it over with. Afterwards you’ll feel fine. It’s a bit like taking a dip in cold water. Something I say to my High School students: “Maybe you say Father Dwight will think I’m a sinner!” Guess what? I think that already. I will have huge admiration for you if you have the courage to come to confession. I dare say its the same with most priests.

  • Anonymous

    My spiritual director and confessor is someone I’ve known since high school. I find that when I enter the confessional with him, it is far easier for me to see Christ present in this face that’s so famiar to me. He knows me so well that I cannot hide from him, and it helps me make a more full confession. As a wife and homeschooling mom of 4, I often find myself confessing the same things–impatience, temper, lack of attention to my prayer life. I never feel judgement from this dear priest, but rather gentle patience and guidance. Only once was my confession a bit more dramatic than the usual drudgery of my day-to-day life, and like Anon., I really felt a bit of fear. I found that going through a detailed examination of conscience was very helpful, but there were some really scandalous things I needed to confess.This came about because several months ago, I read a book about Padre Pio (Man of Hope-excellent reading!) and it really got me thinking about this wonderful sacrament. Then I heard a story on Relavent Radio about a priest who, before he heard God’s call, had a near-death experience which compelled him to make a general confession (confession dealing with your whole life–not just since your last confession). I felt God urging me to do the same.I went to my dear friend, and I think we must have been in that confessional for over an hour. It was the best thing I could ever have done…the freedom and grace that comes from letting go of a lifetime of sin was amazing.No matter how we jugde ourselves in our humanness, there is no sin which can hide from God’s light. We need to remember when we go in to confession that the man sitting in the chair is representative of Christ–with all His compassion, love and mercy. We need to remain mindful of the reason for this sacrament…to restore the grace bestowed to our souls through baptism. No matter how long it’s been since our last confession, God is just waiting for us to come to Him and allow His peace to come into our heart.He says to us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door to Me, I will come in and make my dwelling.” By opening that door of the confessional, we are allowing Him to make His dwelling, once again, in our hearts.