I never tire of hearing these words from a priest: “I absolve you from your sins.”
I heard them again on Tuesday of this week during confession at my parish, Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. I went to a communal penance service, which our parish offers before Christmas and Easter. I like to take advantage of the opportunity to go to confession during Holy Week and right before the Triduum services of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The event was well attended and all of the folks there, including me, got a chance to go to private confession. There were nine priests there and I thank them all for taking the time to come and serve us in a very important way.
Later on that evening, I reflected on those words priests are trained to say to each person who comes to receive the sacrament. You could say that hearing those words means your confession was a success. I couldn’t help but compare that to success in the outdoors. When it comes to catching fish or harvesting game, a host of factors determine whether one will be successful — weather, skill in pursuing the quarry, mood of the fish or animal, etc.
But, in the confessional, all that is needed is a genuine act of contrition. Once you have made an honest confession, you are guaranteed to be forgiven. In fact, that is the point of the sacrament in the first place. God instructs us to go to a priest, not to bind us, but to remove any doubts about his forgiveness. That is something to celebrate during this Easter season. I plan on enjoying that gift now and God’s gift of the outdoors in the weeks and months to come. Next week, turkey scouting begins!