Yesterday afternoon a number of my brother priests from this area completed a week's worth of Lenten Penance Services as we ministered to the students of our Regional Catholic School - Queen of Angels. I am not a fan of "rounding up" the youngsters for these school penance services because I feel that it undermines their personal responsibility to receive the Sacrament. All too often they only "go" when we provide the convenience.
Having said that, I can attest that it was a blessed experience of faith and the mercy of God among his people. We hear in the auditorium of the school, and my "station" was on the stage. I began with the younger youngsters and graduated to the older kids as the time went on. Hearing kids confessions is interesting. Without revealing anything, I can attest that the vast majority of sins confessed reflected the goodness and the innocence of the boys and girls that came to me to confess disobeying mom and dad, or fighting with their siblings, or being mean to someone. And they came expectant - expecting forgiveness and love and assurance that they were okay. It was a joy to remind them that Jesus loves them, forgives them, and that, yes, indeed, they were okay. And that they need to try to do better with Jesus' help.
The title of this post comes from my "penance" of choice yesterday for the dozens of youngsters who came to me for confession. I asked them to do something nice for their mom later on that day to let her know that they loved her. I'm sure that there were some very curious moms who wondered if it was an early Mothers' Day.
In the midst of the uncertainty and cruelty among human beings today, the turmoil and confusion that exists when we ignore God, it is refreshing to see the goodness and the faith in these little ones.