Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Victory of the Confessional

This past weekend the BU Catholic undergrads were on retreat. The best part of the retreat for me happened on Saturday night. After hearing two hours of confessions, the priests who helped me out were all standing around and were just really joyful. They all kept saying how grateful they were to be there. Written all over their faces was the joy of knowing that they had just participated in something extraordinary.

On a Saturday night, most priests have had a busy day and are anticipating another busy day. They're tired. One of the priests who helped me out had just driven from New Jersey and came to hear confessions before he got home to his parish. He was smiling ear to ear and kept saying what a blessing for his priesthood it was to come and hear the confessions of the students. They all remarked how well-prepared and how sincere the students were. Music to my ears! When people are actually prepared for confession, it makes a huge difference!

Although I was delighted to see and to hear how joyful these priests were, I wasn't surprised. It was clear to me from the very beginning of the retreat that the Holy Spirit was powerfully at work. The student led retreat team, the retreat speaker (a young, married man with four small children), and the witness talks were all clearly being used for some powerful purpose. I even noticed something unique about the attendees. There was a charity and an openness about them all that really stood out. It was like God had decided that He was going to do something powerful this weekend and there was nothing that was going to stop that. I knew that the confessions were going to be spectacular. That wasn't "the plan." I could just see it unfolding all weekend. I could see that the Lord was working up to it. 

I told the students afterwards how awesome it was to see all of those priests leaving the night before, after two hours of hearing confessions, filled with joy. Those joyful smiles told me that the priests had felt like they were completely used by the Holy Spirit, and that the confessions were thorough, sincere, and filled with repentance. The "good kind of tired" for a priest is when he is used by God for something like that. It takes everything out of you and makes you feel like, "This is why I was ordained."

The Holy Spirit used all of us on that retreat. He used the priests, but he used the whole retreat team. He used the retreat speaker and witnesses. He used them all so that He could shine light on our sins and to bring forgiveness and healing. The whole time we were there, I knew that the Holy Spirit was like, "This is my weekend and we are going to war."

There is evil afoot in the world, but this weekend, a great battle was fought and the Holy Spirit outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and crushed the Enemy. That was clear by the smiles on the faces of those priests. 

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