Greetings dearest Seven Sisters...
"In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You." - St Augustine
Somewhere along the time line of 'finding the perfect gift' for newly ordained priests, my husband, Jeff, and I settled in on confessional stoles. Jeff, a devotee of Pope St Pius V, discovered this prayer of the saintly Pontiff, which moved us to this decision: "Only give us good confessors, and reform of the Christian people is assured." Years later, Pope Benedict XVI echoed this in making the point that the New Evangelization begins in the confessional. Today, Pope Francis stresses, "Don't be afraid of confession. When someone is in line for confession he feels all these things - even shame - but then, when he finishes confession, he leaves (feeling) free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy."
And so it follows that if reform is to happen, penitents need to avail themselves to the sacrament. The sacrament demands personal involvement and intention, as in the words of St Augustine, "the Lord who created us without us does not save us without us." Our Lord awaits our assent to the sacramental plan of our Catholic lives. A priest at his post in the confessional is silently awaiting, witnessing and promising every sinner the availability and merciful love of Jesus Christ. Dorothy Day admonishes, "You do not want to make too much of your constant imperfections and venial sins, but you want to drag them out to the light of day as the first step in getting rid of them." And the sweet paradox of the faith is that the brightest light of day is located in the dimly lit confessional box. Oh, how I love the Church and her ways!
Fr Peter John Cameron, O.P, in an editorial in Magnificat magazine (April 2013), highlights the icon of our Apostolate as he points out that "a model for the graces of the sacrament of penance is the sinful woman with the alabaster flask ... for the woman, the attraction of Jesus Christ in that dining room was greater than her attachment to her sin. Faith is acknowledging an exceptional Presence that changes us." And we know how this scenario plays out. Jesus fully accepts her offering and absolves her with the words, "Your sins are forgiven... Your faith has saved you, go in peace." We too have heard these words to soothe and mend our own torn, aching and bruised souls. The priest is a chosen conduit for special graces that can bring each of us to a greater knowledge of ourselves, to arouse contrition and desire conversion. His words and gestures serve as sacramental means of realizing the free gift of grace upon grace. The result is conversion and peace.
As Seven Sister intercessors we have a dual privilege of praying for the Good: praying for good confessors and also for ourselves: "bless me Father, that I might make a good confession". Especially in this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us avail ourselves to this powerful sacrament. Most certainly our lives will bear witness to the graces of the Sacrament, and our prayers will bear witness of the graces too! How much more clearly are we able to listen, to see, to charitably respond in our prayer times with a clean heart and these extra showers of graces. The priests to whom we are committed to pray will undoubtedly benefit. As we avail ourselves of frequent confessions and frequent communions we enrich our interior lives and enrich the fountain of prayer that rises from within. May we too sense as did convert-to-the-Faith St Elizabeth Ann Seton, "I felt as if my chains fell, as those of St Peter at the touch of the Divine messenger. My God, what new scenes for my soul!"
United in prayer and mission -
that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest
... eternal gratitude as you remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me each day....
Still time to register:
Saturday, Nov 5, retreat at St Patrick's in Oak Grove, MN.
Respond to your anchoress with your name, names of any guests, priest you are praying for, priest's parish/location. I will in turn send all details of the day's schedule to you w/acknowledgement.