Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
A few weeks ago, I experienced a first in my 50+ years of priesthood. At the regularly scheduled time for the sacrament of reconciliation, NO ONE came. Not one person.

It shouldn't have been a surprise, I guess, because even normally the numbers each week are low.

A hundred thoughts began to germinate. Why are so few sharing in the sacrament? Are we teaching badly? Was there a bad experience with some priest and his less-than-pastoral approach? Have we succeeded in stressing God's mercy so well that when we mess up, we don't think it matters much? Are the hours for the sacrament inconvenient? Sometimes I think we already do good imitations of 7-11's trying to be the convenience store for all. We say you can come anytime.

What are we dealing with? This tiger of possible answers has 100 tails to grab and I hesitate to even try and grab one. I suspect it might be ALL the tails that need grabbing, so I'm not getting into this cage by myself. I hope you'll come with me even if you doubt your tiger taming talents.

Do you recall my definition of sin? A sin is an abuse of a relationship. There is nothing I can do that 'offends' God that hasn't in some way offended SOMEONE first, maybe beginning with myself.

For many, thinking about 'confession' carries a lot of negative feelings with it. That's why a few years back they made a big deal about stressing the sacrament's name as 'reconciliation.' Confession conjures up memories of abused relationships; reconciliation offers healing of relationships.

On occasion some of you have also heard me say that I thought a lot of my purgatory time might be - not for the dumb things I did wrong, but for the good I haven't done; omission vs. commission. Remember?

Unless you are a real nut case, no one gets up in the morning with the first thought being, "Hmmm. Who can I abuse today?" The stupid stuff we do so often is knee-jerk reaction, stupid and thoughtless, but not premeditated.
On the other hand, I can get up in the morning and ask myself, "Who is the Lord sending me to today?" Wouldn't that be an interesting start. When I don't do that, perhaps there is more than an enough room to allow for "sins of omission."

I think if you went to reconciliation regularly for the purpose of asking yourself, "Who has the Lord be trying to touch through me?", you might be very happy with the experience. "Lord, let the grace of this sacrament help me see those people and those opportunities." "...and thank you for giving me this opportunity to ask myself that question in your presence." Aha! True Reconciliation.

Maybe that can help us stop thinking of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a giant dumpster; the Republic or Waste Management Sin Bin.

Reconciliation is one of those moments of encounter that the Catholic Catechism calls, "the masterworks of God." (CC # 1116) I don't know where the authors got that phrase, but it's really great. Sacraments are about Christ reaching out through his Body, the church, and bringing us into the mystery that is God-made-man. The Father reaches out through the power of the Holy Spirit in each of these "masterworks" of God's presence.

Reconciliation isn't a whip the Lord gives for beating ourselves up. It is a hand offered in love and friendship. Take that hand.
sign frjim

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