Joy to the World

Headed down to Franciscan Monastery for a pre-Christmas shrivening. Nothing lightens the heart and the mood like sacramental confession.

Confession is Confession and grace is grace, but some priests unquestionably have a gift for it. This afternoon my "favorite" Franciscan was in the box. Call no man happy before he dies, but he has the marks of holiness: joy and utter simplicity. No matter how down you are about what you tell him, no matter how "stuck" in the same stubborn fault, he manages to do three things: take your sin seriously; lighten your heart by reminding you that grace is stronger and helping you laugh at yourself (everyone comes out of his box laughing, and you can hear them laughing while they're in, too, though of course you can't hear what's being said); and make you feel that he accompanies you in your struggles.

He's modest, too. Today I tried to thank him for helping me through a rough year, and he wouldn't take the praise. "Thank the Almighty," he said in an aw, shucks tone, "and pray for the priest."

I don't know this man at all; he's not my spiritual director or even my regular confessor. I've barely seen him, since we usually meet across a screen, and only on the occasions when our schedules happen to intersect. But I love him! He is a sign in the world of God's goodness and of why we rejoice to have a Savior.