Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Evangelizing Leads to the Confessional: Exhausted by Mercy

There's probably nothing more exhausting in the life of a priest than hearing a lot of confessions.  But, that's not a complaint!  It's an exhaustion that says, "This is why I became a priest!"  Tonight, I have that kind of exhaustion.  This evening five brother priests and I spent two hours hearing confessions at Boston University.  It is just so awesome to see so many young people lining up to come to confession and receive God's mercy.  Man, it is so beautiful.

From my seat in the sanctuary where I was hearing confessions, I looked around and was so grateful for a truly ecclesial experience.  We talk a lot these days about the Church needing to evangelize.  When we say that, it means an evangelization that engages all of the Church's members.  Let me tell you what I experienced tonight.

I'm there hearing confessions of college students; lots of college students.  They're coming to me and I get to speak the words of absolution over them.  All around me, I see these other priests doing the same thing.  After their own full days, they made their way into Boston to help me out and to exercise the ministry of mercy.  For two hours, one penitent after another poured out their souls to them.  But, this was not just the work of priests.  Yes, we priests have this great privilege to hear confessions and absolve sinners.  But, we were being supported there by the whole Church.

The evening of confessions was organized by a committee of students.  They get the whole thing going.  They were there assisting students and directing them.  Our FOCUS Missionaries have been out on campus all week inviting people to come to confession.  They were emailing, calling, texting, and personally inviting students to confession.  Our interns and music ministers were there to assist, pray, and organize.  Some of our students just sat in the chapel and prayed during the time of confessions.  Students posted on Facebook and Twitter about the confession time and place.  All of this in order to help young people to encounter Christ in his Mercy.

But that isn't all.  All of these young people who encountered the mercy of Christ tonight benefited from those who donate to our Newman Center.  Those who support us make it possible for us to bring the sacraments to these students.  I think also of parish priests, parents, and parishioners who helped these young people and taught them about Christ and the Sacraments. They too were part of what happened tonight.  I thank all of them.

Tonight, I am grateful for all of these people who helped young men and woman to receive the grace of new life from Christ.  This, to me, is what the Church is all about.  We are all in this together.  We are in this in order to allow Christ to reach the people of today.  The zeal and dedication of so many Catholics tonight made it possible for many people to encounter Christ.  This is everything! This is the whole thing!  I am especially impressed by how filled with charity the Catholic students at Boston University are for their brothers and sisters.  In the midst of their own busy life, they pulled out all of the stops to help their fellow students to go to confession.  What beautiful charity!  These Catholic students want others to share in the joy of the Gospel, to experience the tenderness and mercy of the Sacraments, and to know the consolation of truly belonging to Christ and to His Church.

Sometimes, I look at these young people and I wonder, "Where did they get all of this?"  It's truly God's grace at work.  They are missionaries who carry with them a joy and attractiveness that is the hallmark of the Gospel.  Although it is the singular privilege of the priest to hear confessions and to impart absolution, I hope that the young people who tonight brought others face to face with the Mercy of God have some share also in the beautiful exhaustion and profound gratitude that I feel tonight.  The exhaustion of mercy is so awesome and these young evangelizers deserve to share in it.

No comments:

Post a Comment