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“See what love the Father has given us…”

“See what love the Father has given us…”

Last summer I met with Father Cassian after a youth night where we offered confession.  Up until this point, we only had confession available strictly for our teens on retreats and at about 3 or 4 special youth nights during the year.  After this particular youth night, Father spoke well of the fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Confession in the life of the teens.  “They need it,” he repeated, “to be reconciled to the truth; they need to know the Lord’s love and to know His mercy.”

Without going into detail he basically told me “It works; they meet Christ in a new way and with wonderful honesty in the Confessional.” He persisted with a question: “I don’t know how our youth can overcome these obstacles in their lives without frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession. The problem is that the times we offer confession is not conducive to their schedule. We need to make the Sacrament available to them, regularly and frequently.” He was convinced that our teens needed every ounce of support that we as a parish had to give for them to conquer sin and reign as saints.  I was in complete agreement and blown away.  I asked him what his idea was to make this happen in a reasonable manner.  He said that he would be willing to hear their confessions every week during youth nights.  Also, this needs to be for our youth—that we need to be clear that parents should not count on this time to go to confession for themselves.

Father CassianOn its face this seemed unreasonable and too great a burden, but all things are possible with Christ who strengthens us.  We set out a plan that during the next year, he would go into the box at the end of youth nights when we meet in Church for closing silent adoration.  It didn’t matter how many teens did or did not come.  We would see.

After our first youth night, I announced the plan to have adoration and confession available at the end of every youth night.  Small group ended around 8:40pm and the groups started to roll into Church.  As my group walked in, Father was faithfully ready to hear confessions.  A few teens got in line.  I went down to pray.  Time passed in the splendor of adoration.  Father Michael was ready to close the night with benediction.  I looked back and to my surprise the line was all the way back to the door!  As one student exited the confessional, I knocked on Father Cassian’s door and said: “Father, we’re about to close and there’s like 20 more teens that want to go.  Do you want to make a cut off?”  He looked at me and said.  “Go get another priest.  I’ll be here as long as they need me.”  I was absolutely rocked by that.  The scripture verse from 1 John 3: 1 popped into my mind: “See what love the Father has given us…”  In that moment of self-denial for the good of His sheep, I saw in a very real way the love of the Father for His children being manifested in the deeds and words of Father Cassian.  Not only Father Cassian, but after benediction, without being asked, Father Michael got into the other confessional and the two heard confessions until 10pm!

And so it is: we will have Confession every Tuesday night beginning at 8:30pm, until done, so that the youth might know the Lord’s profound love for them in this wonderful sacrament.

Our Father does not stop loving us and he makes that kind of love known in a very special way through His priests on earth.  Although we’re all called to become like Christ, only the priest imitates Christ in His perfect poverty, chastity and obedience that Jesus had along with His power to forgive sins and bring us the Eucharist.  I pray that everyone who reads this would stop and pray with heartfelt thanksgiving for the love of the Father in Heaven that we receive through our Father’s on earth.  Let us also unite in praying for more young men to rise up to serve the Church as priests!

Patrick Reis

Patrick Reis is the Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at St. Patrick's Dominican Parish in Columbus, OH.  

Office: 614-240-5925

Website: www.stpatrickyouth.org

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