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  • Sarah Raad

Repentance

If we use the sacrament of Reconciliation we will be saved. What greater love could God show us than that?

Saint Damien of Molokai

Lent is a terribly long time of the year for me. It drains me.


This is probably because I do not know how to pray or offer sacrifices properly, and so I feel tired, as though it is me – and not God Himself – who wandered through the desert for these 40 days and nights. This is of course absurd because I live in a lovely comfortable home with my lovely comfortable family, and I have more blessings than I could ever possibly explain.


And yet, still – for me – lent is very difficult and still I manage to find plenty of breath to complain about it.


In reflecting on this period of the year where we are supposed to look to God and reconsider our lives to grow in faith and obedience to God, it occurs to me that Purgatory must be a terribly awful place for all those Lost Souls. Purgatory, unlike Lent, is more than a few short weeks of the year – it is an enduring sacrifice that seems to draw out eternally (though thank God it is only temporal). It is a suffering and a separation from God.


Those Poor Lost Souls suffer for their sanctification and being unable to pray for themselves, I pray for them, that they may greet me when it is my turn to enter into God’s Holy Kingdom…


And yet, despite all my complaints about Lent, there is one thing that I really and truly love about it.


Reconciliation.


It is offered so much more frequently!

One of the dear priests who prayed with me for my beautiful baby niece when she was so ill last year once told me that you can tell a good priest by the number of hours he spends in the Confessional. Those are wise words…

And yet, I know many people who are very uncomfortable about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Over the years I have heard many arguments about why one should NOT go to Confession.


Some people claim that Confession is ridiculous because by confessing to a priest, they are elevating the priest and allowing that priest to judge them, and the priest is not God. Of course that is not the case. We confess to a priest because Christ told us to, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). This is a blessing for us. In speaking our sins allowed we cannot justify them to ourselves and are forced to stare our weakness in the eye, so to speak, and therefore acknowledge and improve upon it.


Others say that they do not like a certain priest to hear their confession for a variety of reasons. Some say, they are embarrassed, or they know the priest personally, or do not like the priest as a person. This is nonsense. It is not the man who forgives our sins. It is not the man who hears them. It is God Himself. The priest is a conduit for God in that moment. His role is to inspire us through Grace to repent.


I LOVE the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession for me is the most wonderful gift that we are afforded by our infinitely LOVING GOD. Confession is the sign of God’s goodness. Confession is the opportunity to make things right – even when what we have done wrong is so awful that we have no RIGHT to make things right.


When I was much younger (in 1999), I watched a beautiful film about Saint Damien of Molokai called “Molokai: The Story of Father Damien”.


Saint Damien spent his priesthood serving and ministering to people afflicted with leprosy in a leper colony in the late 19th century, when there was no known cure for the disease. He was literally deposited on the colony and remained there until his own death from the disease some years later with the exception of some short visits to his superiors before his health diminished.


In the film there is a scene where a priest came via a supply boat to the colony but was unable to dock in the colony for fear of infection and due to rough seas.


Saint Damien had been waiting a year for that priest. He would not delay. He SHOUTED his Confession to his brother priest from his boat in the middle of the ocean to the shock of all the other passengers and crew, who heard the entire Confession.


That is how desperate this Saint was to Confess his sins. He did not care who heard. He did not care who the priest was. He cared only that he needed to beg forgiveness for his sins and repent.

It was not the confession that worried this saint – but the repentance.

This scene has stayed in my mind, because it was this small scene in this small film that changed the way that I saw Confession forever. In watching the power of a completely unpretentious confession made desperately, I saw the urgency of this Saint to repent. I saw his utter urgency.


His sins pressed heavily upon him and he urgently desired to free himself of those sins so that he could come back to the bosom of his Beloved.


So. Do. I.


For it is only through repentance that I can actually embrace my Beloved.


Repentance will set me free.


And freedom is all I crave!


For prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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