I can still hear the Irish brogue of the retired Monseigneur who often heard my confession when I was a teenager. He taught me so much about how to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
While I was on my first retreat with the parish youth group, I had had a conversion experience during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and I felt drawn by the Lord to participate in anything I could fit in my schedule. Our parish offered Eucharistic Adoration all day on Mondays and the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the evening. Always a nervous wreck, but fully aware I needed absolution, I summoned the courage to go frequently.
This Monseigneur was so patient, steady, and kind that I gradually looked forward to going to Confession, and although I wouldn’t have known how to describe it at the time, looking back, I can see that I truly grew spiritually. The way he listened patiently and attentively not only helped me receive the sacrament properly, but it also evangelized me.
He formed in me an experiential knowledge of what Saint Paul describes today: “there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24) Gradually, through this experience, God taught me to open myself to His mercy freely given.
I often remember this good priest, who has since passed to eternity, and ask him to pray for me and with me for others. As I think back to him, I marvel at his humility. Like so many others who truly represent the Lord, he must have had a deep personal knowledge of God’s mercy freely given and freely received.
As Saint Paul says in today’s First Reading, there is no occasion for boasting. In fact, “it is ruled out.” (Romans 3:27) And many saints have echoed this attitude of Saint Paul, seeing everything good in themselves as mercy and gift. Saint Therese wrote, at the end of her life, “everything is grace.”
Sisters, we cannot go wrong throwing ourselves into the merciful arms of God. That’s the point of the readings today. Our Lord Jesus is not shy about saying “woe” to the proud, (Luke 11:47) but if we can turn to God begging for mercy, we will know in every fiber of our being: “With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.” (Psalm 130:7) God Himself will teach us how to trust in Him alone.
Let’s pray together, in union with each other and the whole Mystical Body of the Church: “My soul waits for the LORD more than sentinels wait for the dawn.” (Psalm 130:6)
Sister Maria Kim Bui is a Daughter of Saint Paul, women religious dedicated to evangelization in and through the media. She is originally from Tempe, AZ, spent most of her fourteen years in religious life in the northeast, and is part of a bilingual evangelization team of sisters serving in Texas. Find out more about her here.