The Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference was a rousing success this year. The camaraderie of 500 guys spending the day together was great. The four keynote speakers were dynamic. The concluding Mass celebrated by Archbishop Leonard Blair in front of the pitcher’s mound was wonderful.
However, the best feature of the Conference, by far, was seeing at least 15 priests scattered throughout the grandstand hearing confessions. There was a steady line of dozens and dozens of men patiently waiting for a spot to open up. By the time the Conference was done, well over half of the 500 men present received the supernatural grace of this powerful Sacrament.
When it was my turn for Confession, the first sin I confessed was: “I spent the past 20 months using the pandemic as a poor excuse for avoiding Confession.” And if you’re waiting for me to list all the other sins I confessed, don’t hold your breath. That’s between God and me.
When I say my Confession was between God and me, you might reply, “But wait a minute. What about the priest? He heard your sins, so he’s involved, too.”
Well, that is true in one sense. But during the Sacrament of Confession, the priest is acting in persona christi, which is Latin for “In the person of Christ.” The priest, by virtue of his ordination, is the conduit through which the graces of God flow.
Some people insist that an ordained priest and a formal ritual are not necessary to confess sins. A person can sincerely pray to God, express remorse for sinful thoughts and deeds, and ask for forgiveness. There’s no doubt God is so loving and compassionate that He hears these prayers and responds.
You see, when we speak our failings and faults out loud to another person, rather than silently in our minds during private prayer, we really get it off our chest. There is no doubt in our mind whether God heard us or forgave us. When the priest audibly offers the prayer of absolution, we hear it; we know it’s true; and we know we’ve been forgiven. There is no doubt that God, working through His priest, has forgiven us.
That’s why there were tears of gratitude and relief in the eyes of so many men at the Conference. We knew God heard us and we knew we were forgiven. It’s a joyous feeling to have that weight finally lifted off your shoulders.
So, it was a great day, and the best part was the supernatural grace of forgiveness conferred through the Sacrament of Confession. And even though all the men present that day know this particular fact, I’m going to say it here anyway: Confession is available every weekend at your local parish, not just once a year at the Men’s Conference. Keep that in mind if you realize the weight of sin is dragging you down. Don’t delay until next year (or in my case, 20 long months). Go to Confession soon!
No doubt the archbishop has a very busy and important job. But if you are located exactly halfway between New York and Boston, smack dab in the middle of the hottest rivalry in sports, there are certain things you just have to know. I’m pretty sure the Archbishop needs to go to Confession about that one.