On Monday, March 14, our teens, who are participating in the Faith Formation Progarm and preparing for Confirmation, participated in a Penance Service in our chapel. The teens always come to opportunities like this dressed in their Sunday best. This shows a reverence and respect for Church. Father Valle, a newly-ordained priest, once again led the service. He shared with us the importance of confession and our need for mercy.
Last night, I was also able to experience the grace of confession. As he gave me the absolution, Father placed his purple stole upon my head. I experienced a profound grace as I prayed that our young people would also have such an experience. This gesture reminded me of something our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said: “I have always been moved by the gesture in the tradition of Eastern churches, where the confessor welcomes the penitent by putting his stole over the penitent’s head and an arm around his shoulder, as if embracing him. It is the physical representation of acceptance and mercy. We are reminded that we are not there to be judged. It’s true that there is always a certain amount of judgment in confession, but there is something greater than judgment that comes into play. It is being face-to-face with someone who acts in persona Christi to welcome and forgive you. It is an encounter with mercy.” (Excerpt From: Pope Francis & Oonagh Stransky. “The Name of God Is Mercy.” )