Wednesday, October 06, 2004

May I have the honor of introducing you . . .?

I have never had the privilege of meeting Fr. David Hudgins (of my own Lansing diocese) in person. But his writings and his spirit have won me over. Besides, he's a Michigan fan, adding to his charm. Here's a recent post (actually an extract of something his brother wrote) from his blog The Great Commandment that is worth sharing with all of you:

Most of my life seems so ordinary to me, I don't think twice about it. Then from time to time I'm reminded how many people are fascinated by the priesthood, and want to know what it's really like to be on the inside looking out.

Today's subject is hearing confessions. Ever wondered what it's like to sit on the other side of the screen? Well step on over, and I'll tell you just a little bit. I could never summarize it all in the space of one little blog, but I'll try. If you could sit next to me and listen in, I think you'd discover...

--that most people are saying the exact same things. If you could hear someone else's confession, you'd think it was your own.--that you cannot recognize anyone's voice. With very very few exceptions, of people you know very well, you have no idea who is confessing to you. It really is anonymous.

--that in a very short amount of time, you would hear a sin against every commandment. Yep, all 10. You don't have to hear confessions for long before you feel you have heard it all. Which leads me to my next point...

--that for the life of you, you cannot remember what people say. After a few minutes in the "sin bin", it all sounds the same, and mushes together. In 6 years of hearing confessions, I can probably recall the specific sins of fewer than 10 people...and these were unforgettable, extreme, and very rarely committed sins.

--that you admire people more, not less, when they confess big sins. You think to yourself, "now here's someone who's honest, humble, and truthful. Here's someone who knows who they are, and wants to change." Believe it or not, big sins are beautiful to hear.

--finally, you would find it to be very tiring. Hearing confessions is an intense, emotionally draining experience, requiring constant, unflinching attention, and prudential judgement about what to say (and what not to say). After an hour, you're tired. After 2 hours, you're nerves are beginning to fray. After 3 hours, you can hardly remember your own name. St. John Vianney heard confessions for 18 hours a day. That's what we call "martyrdom on the installment plan.

Well there you have it. So don't be afraid to go to confession. Don't be afraid to say it all, and don't ever worry about what the priest thinks of you. When it comes to confession, the Nike commercials say it best, "just do it." You'll be glad you did.




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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

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