Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Power to Heal the World

A Conversation
In a conversation with my brother, a priest for the Diocese of Columbus, OH., the topic of married priests came about. In no uncertain terms he let me know his strong feelings against the idea. Being the older brother, I, of course, had to play the Devil's Advocate with a touch of sincerity based on my own experience of being a father of 8 children.

I proposed the idea that a priest or bishop may be able to better deal with his flock, his family, if he had children of his own. Most parents love their children in an indescribable way and only when you become a parent can you better appreciate both your own parents, and the experiences of other parents and children. When I hear the horror stories of lost or abused children I feel a deep pain my heart because I can relate all to well to those situations if only vicariously. So, I put forth the proposition to my brother that priests and bishops would know a deeper love of their "family" if they had children of their own.

The Love of a Father
My brother sat in his chair for a minute and thought. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he looked at the floor contemplating what I had just said. After a few seconds he looked up at me with an almost pained look in his eyes as if he were about to cry. Maybe he was about to cry because in essence I had just told him that he could not really truly love as I loved because he didn't have children of his own. I had told him in so many words that he would never be able to truly relate to people on a deeper level because he had never experienced that indescribable love that a parent has for a child.

With the compassion of a priest and the love of a brother my brother spoke gently and directly as he looked me in the eye. What he said will forever be seared in my mind. I truly felt Christ coming through this man who was now formed in His image. He told me plainly and simply that if a priest or a bishop is hearing confessions regularly he experiences that indescribable love and pain that comes from being the parent of not only a healthy fun loving child but also of one who is continually suffering from an aliment that no human doctor can cure, sin.

He told me that the previous night he and a few other priests had heard confessions for an hour and a half at a Catholic Youth Summer Camp. He said that he wanted to cry so many times listening to these young people confess their sins. He told me that these young people who called him "father" were in a great deal of pain for many and various reasons. He felt such a deep love for them that he could not help feeling their pain. In the confessional he became their father and he tried to love them no matter how long they had been away and he ran to welcome them home with the power invested in him. He, like Christ, had taken the weight of their sin on his shoulders and forgave them in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Power to Heal the World

The sacrament of confession is a great gift given to us by Christ. It is a gift that makes us whole again. It brings us back home into the arms of Our Father. The Church is in a great deal of pain at this time in history and as the saying goes, "as the Church goes, so goes the world". It is easy for the average Catholic to sit back and point fingers at this bishop or that priest but I have another idea. We have an opportunity to change the course of the Church and in turn the course of history. It is not an easy thing to do but it is very much possible with God's help. To make this idea work it will require the help of every Catholic who is serious about their faith and about bringing Jesus Christ to the world. This idea requires courage and humility. Here is my idea, ask a priest or bishop to hear your confession. If everyone dropped to their knees, examined their conscience, and went to confession great things would happen. First, we would be healed of that illness that is a spiritual cancer that destroys not only us but those around us.  Second, we would heal the wounds we have caused in the Body of Christ, the Church. Finally, our priests and bishops would know what we are struggling with and be able to better help us overcome and resist our temptations and weaknesses. Confession can heal the Church as well as the world if we only trust in the love of the Father of mercies who through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins through the ministry of the Church to make us once again children of God.

Excuse me father, could you hear my confession?

James M. Hahn  is the founder of Real Life Rosary and the author of Rosary Meditations for
Real Life available at www.realliferosary.com  James lives in Southeast Ohio with his wife and
eight children. He can be contacted at webmaster@realliferosary.com.

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