Each Friday this Summer, I am devoting my Homily at our Parish’s daily Mass to some aspect of the Sacrament of Penance.
Today, I wish to offer a simple point: Good confessions lead to good vocations.
There are many good reasons to spend a few minutes before Our Eucharistic Lord in Church immediately after making one’s confession. This, of course, is the time when many pray their penance. It is a time to quiet our souls in a state of grace and ask, “Lord, is there anything that you wish to show me, to teach me, to change in me?” The Holy Spirit will often bring us light about how to avoid the near occasion of sin the next time, how to take practical steps toward virtuous habits, how to “amend my life.”
“Lord, in your light, we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)
In light of Christ’s teaching in today’s Gospel concerning those who “have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven,” I wish to note a vocational component of the Sacrament of Penance that often goes unrecognized. That is, a person who has been absolved of sin is now brought to a place where sin and its effects are not clouding his spiritual vision as they had previously. If I am steeped in unchastity or self-concern or irreverence, then it is difficult, even laughable, for me to fathom the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. But moral freedom leads me to hear Christ’s call more freely.
Specifically, a good confession is the source of a good vocation in at least three ways:
1. God has forgiven me! I recognize His divine, generous, merciful love in this confession, and now my heart wishes to offer generous love toward Him in return.
2. God has forgiven me! Now I wish for others to taste and see this same mercy, perhaps by means of a priestly vocation, through which I might be a channel of God’s ministry of reconciliation to countless others.
3. God has forgiven me! Even though my sins cling to me so closely, and I consider myself far from ready to enter a vocation of celibacy, of religious poverty, chastity, and obedience … nevertheless, I have witnessed Christ Jesus beginning a good work in me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a work that might one day be brought to perfection!
If your parish is attempting to promote vocations among your young people, don’t waste your time on slick and silly programs. Get the youth back into God’s good graces. Get them back within earshot of the Holy Spirit.
Get them back into the Confessional.