Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Painful Memory of a Confession

Many find confession difficult, and  have a reason to fear the experience. We have all heard many stories of priests not sensitive to the needs of the penitents leaving scars that do not easily heal. In the magazine Catholic Digest a writer tells us his experience as a child in the confessional.

At his first confession the  child was given a hard time for not confessing his sins. The confessor  raising his voice in a way that his parents, outside the confessional, knew something was amiss, and asked him about it when he left the confessional. From that time on the confessional became a place he would  go to be reprimanded.

While in middle school they moved to China because of his father's work. Catholic Churches were distant, and the language were some of the reasons he distanced himself from God. After high school he entered college and going to Sunday Mass was infrequent.

During college there was a Catholic Scripture group that met and during one of the study and training programs he gathered the courage to go to confession. As he was waiting to go into the confessional the thoughts of his first confession came to mind, and like a child overcome with timidity, his whole body stiffened. Hesitating awkwardly, he opened the door and went in. But making matters worse was the cloth that separated the priest from the penitent was missing, and he was face to face with the priest. A candle in the cozy compartment in which the priest sat, cast a shadow which projected the priest's image.

His hair was white and his blue eyes welcomed him with warmth and a smile, he was a foreigner. Without words he  was telling him to sit down, say anything you want, nothing to worry about, God will forgive all your sins. Without reason seeing his smiling eyes he began to cry. All that kept him from a closeness to God and his dark past all came out.

After the training period his life changed greatly.  He went to Mass and felt a closeness to God. He was thankful for the time at the training and study program. He was not conscious of others but made his own plans for the future and his happiness was such that even his acquaintances noticed the difference.

Some four years later he was working for a department associated with the Vatican. He was given the task to interview a  foreign missionary  priest and religious sister. They were Franciscans. When he met the priest he looked just like the priest that made him feel so comfortable some 4 years earlier. He passed it off as being a look-alike.

When the article appeared in the magazine he brought a copy to the priest, and while eating they talked about the spiritual life. The writer brought up the Scripture study and training group of young people he attended while in college. During the conversation it was clear that this priest was the one who heard his confession many years before. And he thanked the priest profusely. This experience was a gift, and helped him to experience the love of God again.

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