forgiveness …

… I had never been to a Lenten Penance Service before and I had no intention of starting now; however, I found myself in need of the sacrament so I went to a local parish and picked a line. Any line. There were so many to choose from.

As I patiently waited my turn it dawned on me why there were so many lines and so many priests… because there was so much need. So many people in need of Christ’s forgiving mercy. The weight of it could almost be felt on your soul. I looked around and wondered how many were seeking forgiveness after decades of living with sin and hurt. I listened to the soft piano playing meant to muffle the whispers of confessions but it just became a backdrop to stifled cries and prayers of penance.

Then it hit me. It was one of those moments. I don’t have them often, but there it was. A profound moment where I was moved beyond anything I can express here. Of course I know Christ died for our sins and sacrificed Himself so that we may receive redemption and pardon but to see it played out before me, compounded by the sheer volume of penitents lining that church seeking mercy… the magnitude of all that need and desire for absolution practically crushed me. In a single moment I knew and fully comprehended why Christ had to die. For the first time I fully appreciated it and was humbly grateful, more grateful than I had ever been.

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  • Have you ever had one of those moments where you're suddenly made aware of the extent of the filth and corruption that sin has sown in your soul, how deep it has penetrated? When suddenly even things you thought were innocent on your part have, in fact, a dark underlining, however subtle it might be? It is at those moments that I become aware of why I need Christ.

  • I had my all time best confession at one of those services. I came home and my husband said I looked like I lost 20 lbs.

  • You remind me of Catherine of Genoa sometimes.

  • My favorite time for Reconcilation is at a Communal Penance Service. They always affect me profoundly.

  • G

    Kat, that last paragraph is one of the most elegant and concise summaries of Christ's sacrifice I have ever read. Copied and pasted; I am going to want to read it again. Thanks

  • I love the Sacrament of Penance!Every church should offer it right before every Mass 6-7 days per week.To recieve the Blessed Sacrament with mortal sin on our soul is a mortal sin in itself, compouunded.There are many churches that offer Confession right before Mass, and it used to be, in the mid '60's and before,the norm in parishes.On a related note, I am extremely grateful for priests like Fr Corapi who made me aware that certain acts are mortal sins if done with full knowledge and free will such as masturbation.This really changed my soul.

  • @MarkI pray for that. knowelge of who and what i am as God sees me, to know what my sins are. That is really an awesome grace.

  • I don't like penance services. That said, what a beautiful reflection. It is good to remember that just because I don't like something, that doesn't mean it isn't in itself beautiful and good. I went to confession this week at my parish, during the weekly half-hour allotted for it, with my pastor who seems to feel the whole thing is faintly unnecessary. Still, hearing the words of absolution is the most beautiful thing. That sort of thing reminds me that an ordained man really is an "alter Christus" even if he doesn't particularly think so.

  • I have always loved Saturday afternoons, standing in the confessional line. On occasion, I have thought about all the lines in all the churches around the world, but I think I need to experience that now. Thanks.

  • Kat: Thanks for that beautiful moment.

  • It has been my experience that parishes that offer Confession opportunites the most ofthen are the ones which are the most successful (at least in numbers).

  • estimado Cres cras, observando la foto de sacerdotes confesando he notado que los fieles no están arrodillados durante su confesión, a lo mejor no se quieren ensuciar la ropa, o son muy modernistas al igual que los sacerdotes, en la parroquia en donde yo asisto a Misa nunca ví un fiel confesandosé sentado, salvo que tenga un impedimiento fisico, bueno hoy a Dios lo ponen a la misma altura que cualquiera, no se vé contrición, ni humillación,ni dolor . que Dios lo bendiga y lo felicito por su blog, del cual me nutro de información y gracias, saludos en Cristo Nuestro Señor Jorge

  • Thank you for the beautiful post and the beautiful photograph. I have saved both.

  • Oh my goodness, what an amazing post. Is that how your parish does the confessions – in the photo?

  • Every time I go to St. Peter's, one of the very, very few places in town where you can be sure to get your confession heard if you only speak English, the same thing seems to happen to me. It invariably is the case that there is only one Anglophone priest available and the guy kneeling there has decided to come back to the faith after 30 years of a life of murder, rapine, piracy and puppy-kicking. I had exactly one hour to get from the Ponte Sant Angelo bus stop to the confessional, a distance of about 1.5 miles, and out again and off to Mass at Trinita. Between me and it were about 30,000 tourists, a line up, a metal detector then 30,000 more tourists all blocking the narrow passages created by the crowd control barriers. I jumped on the next bus, jogged across the piazza elbowing past groups of yellow-capped kiddies and their nun minder; brazenly, and very un-Canadianly barged past the crowds to get to the metal detector, muscled my way past the Japanese hordes photographing the Pieta. Yelling "Permesso!" I barrelled down the, frankly completely unnecessarily long nave, and made it to the north transept in a record 20 minutes. Where I stopped and waited. Sure enough, there was exactly one and only one "English" sign on the dozen or so confessionals. And there he was. One guy in a brown corduroy jacket and, Godhelpus, pink sneakers, knelt, talking loudly in Polish. And talking. And talking. And talking… I waited. And waited. Soon several other Anglos were loosely lined up behind me. After a while, a French priest in a Franciscan habit came up and pointed to another box and said, "Eeengleesh there." No priest was in that other box, however, a point which was made forcefully by the rest of us waiting. And waiting…There's only so much awe and wonder you can muster at all the big Berninis when you're hot and sweaty, annoyed and in a hurry. It's a good thing one isn't required to *feel* contrition for a valid confession.