Tonight Is an “Evening of Confession” in the Diocese of Cleveland

Pope Francis at ConfessionRabbi Naomi Levy recounts this story in her book To Begin Again: The Journey Toward Comfort, Strength and Faith in Difficult Times.

A mother brought her six-year-old son, Joey, into Rabbi Levy’s office. Joey was pale and shaking. The rabbi gave the boy a hug and asked him what was the matter. Joey said that his friend Andy had died in a car accident. Joey and Rabbi Levy had a long conversation about death, but the rabbi got the feeling that Joey had something very specific to get off his chest. Finally, Joey said, “When we were playing together last week, I kicked Andy on purpose.”

“And you feel bad about that now?” Rabbi Levy asked. Joey started to cry and said, “Yes.” The rabbi then asked, “What would Joey say to Andy if he were still alive?” To which the boy quickly replied, “I’d say, ‘I’m sorry I kicked you.’”

And the minute Joey said those words, Rabbi Levy writes, “it was as if a spell had been broken. This little boy felt relieved. He couldn’t apologize to Andy in person, but he verbalized his regret and that seemed to lighten his load quite a bit.”

There is healing that can only be experienced through forgiveness. As Joey discovered at a very young age, life is too fleeting and precious to waste away in needless recriminations, pointless anger, and stifling guilt. Throughout the gospels Christ reminds us that forgiveness is freely given by a God who loves us and wants nothing more than for us to experience His love and mercy. Yet, he also challenges us to forgive in the same way God forgives us. Living this way will always lead to peace.

Forgiveness is not something that we can give ourselves. One asks for forgiveness, one asks it of another person, and in confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus. Yes, you can ask God to forgive you of your sins in private. But our sins are also against our brothers and sisters, against the Church. This is why our Catholic faith teaches that it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers and sisters, in the person of the priest.

Pope Francis frequently speaks about the need to experience the forgiveness of the Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation – confession. We’ve all heard him say that “God always forgives us. He never tires of forgiving us. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. But God does not tire of pardoning us.” That is an important truth for all of us to remember – especially during Lent, when we are called in an intentional way to turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.

In one of his Wednesday audiences, Pope Francis asked those gathered in Saint Peter’s Square: “Everyone, say to yourself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day! Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus will be there, and Jesus is better than the priests – Jesus receives you. He will receive you with so much love! Be courageous, and go to confession. Don’t be afraid!”

In his homily yesterday at the daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he was preaching about forgiveness, Pope Francis reminded everyone that there are no threats in the confessional, only forgiveness.  Then he said to the priests, “When we, in the place of the Lord, hear confessions, we should have an attitude of goodness. As the Lord says, ‘Come on, let’s discuss this. It’s no problem, let’s talk. Receive forgiveness. That must be our attitude. It will allow the person before to feel at peace.”

So, ask yourself: “When was the last time you went to confession?” If it has been a long time, don’t lose another day. Go to the Lord with an open heart. He is the Father who is waiting for you.

This evening from 5:00 to 8:00 pm in all of the parishes throughout the Diocese of Cleveland, including Saint John Bosco in Parma Heights, priests will be available for confession. If you have been away from the sacrament for a long time, please take the words of Pope Francis to heart. Don’t be afraid to go to confession – whether it is this evening or at another time. The love of God is there. There’s no sin that can’t be forgiven. Don’t we all need to experience the tender embrace of God?

This evening at Saint John Bosco, and all of the parishes throughout the diocese, the doors will be open. The lights will be on.

Question – When was the last time that you experienced the forgiveness of the Lord in confession? What’s holding you back from hearing the Lord Jesus say, “I love you, I forgive you”?


February 28th, 2018 |