I have to admit after all my years as a Catholic there are some basic things I just keep learning about the Faith. There was an excellent article out today at the Life Teen site that is one of the best articles I have seen on Confession in some time. See My Side of the Confessional: What Is It Like for a Priest?
The whole article is a wonderful read but I sort of took a step back when I saw this.
.....Lastly, when a priest hears Confessions, he is taking on another responsibility.
One time, after college, I was returning to Confession after a long time and a lot of sin and the priest simply gave me something like “one Hail Mary” as my penance. I stopped.
“Um, Father…? Did you hear everything I said?” “Yes, I did.” “Don’t you think I should get a bigger penance than that?” He looked at me with great love and said, “No. That small penance is all that I’m asking of you.” He hesitated, and then continued, “But you should know . . . I will be fasting for you for the next 30 days.”
I was stunned. I didn’t know what to do. He told me that the Catechism teaches that the priest must do penance for all those who come to him for Confession. And here he was, embracing a severe penance for all of my severe sins.
This is why Confession reveals the priest’s own soul; it reveals his willingness to sacrifice his life with Christ. He sees our sins as a burden that he will take up (with Jesus!) and offer them to the Father, while offering us the mercy of God.
Remember, Confession is always a place of victory. Whether you have confessed a particular sin for the first time, or if this is the 12,001st time, every Confession is a win for Jesus. And I, a priest, get to be there. That’s what it’s like . . . I get to sit and watch Jesus win His children back all day.
It’s flippin’ awesome.
I had no idea !! In fact in all the homlies I have heard on confession ( and there should be more) I can't recall hearing this . Maybe way way way back in R.C.I.A. it was mentioned but I can't recall it.
And LO and behold it is indeed in the Catechism :
1448 Beneath the changes in discipline and celebration that this sacrament has undergone over the centuries, the same fundamental structure is to be discerned. It comprises two equally essential elements: on the one hand, the acts of the man who undergoes conversion through the action of the Holy Spirit: namely, contrition, confession, and satisfaction; on the other, God's action through the intervention of the Church. The Church, who through the bishop and his priests forgives sins in the name of Jesus Christ and determines the manner of satisfaction, also prays for the sinner and does penance with him. Thus the sinner is healed and re-established in ecclesial communion.
1466 The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ.71 He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy.
How wonderful and bless we are to have such Priests.