Archive for March, 2006

The Annual “Get back to Confession” Homily, Lent 2006

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

Homily — 2nd Sunday Lent B MMVI March 12, 2006

christ transfigured atop mt. tabor

This past summer (2005), I went with 3 other priests up camping in the White Mountains for 10 days. It is a vacation I take most every year; and one of the things we do while we’re up there is take at least one “mammoth hike,” a hike up one of the mountains in the National Forest.

Last summer we decided to climb up Mount Webster, which brings you up to the top of Crawford Notch overlooking Wiley Pond if you know the area. This past year I was with 2 other priests who are veteran campers and hikers with me, and another priest who hadn’t camped or hiked up a mountain I think since cub scouts. He was up for the experience though, and so we started out on the trail and soon started climbing what the guide book said was a rather steep 2 hour hike to the top.

About 15 minutes into the hike, it was clear to the 3 of us veteran hikers that the rookie was having problems. He was a bit out of shape, and more than a little intimidated by the big Mountain and the thick forest. But we kept encouraging him, saying that when we get out of the trees the view is supposed to be spectacular.

It wasn’t until we were halfway there that he first said “I’m not sure I can make it to the end.” But after resting a few minutes, he said, “No, let’s keep going.”

He did this a few more times. Finally, after we had hiked for 2 hours and were still in thick wood we came to a real steep section and he said “I can’t get up there! I’m going to have to come down that way too?”

I said “look, you rest here another 10 minutes with Fr. Kelley. Fr. Riley and I will go on ahead for another 15 minutes, and if we make it to a view point we’ll holler for you and if you’re up to it you guys can come on up; if not, we’ll meet you down at the car.
So Fr. Riley and I hiked another grueling 15 minutes, and finally came out of the trees onto the side of one of the most spectacular cliffs in the whole Range.

Ten minutes after that, along comes Fr. Kelley and our Rookie climber priest, looking more than a bit ragged. He looks out at the view and says “WOW. This is Awesome!” And began for the first time to experience that “mountain climbers high” that there’s nothing else like.

When we got back down I said “Glad you came?” “Oh yeah, that was great.” You could tell he was proud of himself for the accomplishment.

A week from Saturday, on March 25, 2006, we will have our third annual All Day Confessions from 8 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon, with two to four priests at all times hearing individual confessions throughout the day.

For many of us, getting to confession is like my priest friend trying to get up that mountain. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Maybe for you, the last time you’ve been to confession was when you were in Cub Scouts or Brownie Scouts. And the closer you are getting to going, the more and more unsure you are that you are going to really get there and confess your sins.

Well, as a veteran mountain climber and a veteran confession goer, I want to encourage you to keep going. Don’t let your sins intimidate you. Once you’ve confessed them and come out of that thick forest, you will feel and truly be on top of the world like you have never been before.

Next week in the bulletin, we’ll be putting as we’ve done before the list of the priest’s who will be hearing confessions that day, and the times they will be here. All the confessors are excellent priests who will be extra gentle, and help you if you freeze up.

Also next weekend we’ll have in every bulletin this nifty “Guide to Confession” (put out by the Knights of Columbus) which has a nice picture of a mountain peak on it!!! Think of it as a trail map to get you to the top of the mountain where you will see Jesus Transfigured, and your soul Transfigured along with him.

Now, some of you might be like my friend the rookie climber. You might get all the way to next Saturday saying “I’m going to finally go back to confession, I’m going to go.” And then when Saturday Morning comes, with only a little more ways to go, you’ll say “It’s hopeless! I can’t go into that confessional!”

We’ll, at least promise me you’ll do this: at least make it through the Church doors into one of the pews. Then say a Hail Mary. If you do at least that this year on Saturday March 25, you’ve done your part, then let God do the rest.

We will have soothing music playing the whole 8 hours, loud enough so that you can’t hear other peoples confessions and they can’t hear yours, only the priest. Big signs will be up telling you where to sit as you wait to go to confession, and what priest is in what confessional. And finally, every confessional has a screen so you can go anonymously if you want, as well as chairs if you’d rather go face to face. And again, I’ve written to my two orders of Cloistered Nuns, and they are right now every day praying and sacrificing for you, that you might unburden your sins to Jesus.

So I hope you take 10-20 minutes out of the 8 hours of your day Saturday March 25 between 8 and 4, and make that climb up the steps of St. Joseph’s Church and up into one of those confessionals.

I’m sure if you do, whether you’re a veteran or a rookie at it, like my friend you’ll come out with a climbers high, saying “WOW, that was Awesome,” as Christ transfigures your soul and fills it with His mercy and peace.