In addition to the regularly scheduled confessions, this week has seen our local priests gather for our regional Lenten Penance Services in our four parishes. Hundreds of God's people have come to the Church to be reconciled, and the mercy of God and the healing of this Sacrament was manifest in countless lives in this corner of the Kingdom. As Pope Francis is so often bringing to light, it is about the love and mercy of God, in fact, all about the love and mercy of God coming alive within the lives of sinners that makes Christ present in our hearts and the world.
As I grow older I have come to appreciate this Sacrament even more, and the awesome experience of being an instrument of that love and mercy as a priest is truly humbling. The trust that people of faith place upon us is moving. And the peace that I personally experience is refreshing. One of the gifts of being in an area for awhile is that people get to know you. Many times in the parishes these last few days I have had people say to me that they are so glad that I was there, because they have come to feel good and comfortable in coming to me for confession. Exhausting as these long evenings of Services are, I come away refreshed and feeling more priestly than ever. I never take this ministry lightly. It is a gift - to me, and I am grateful.