by Father Scott Wallisch.
Usually, I use this column to discuss discernment, but I felt moved to address the jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has encouraged us to ponder the innate mercy found in God the Father and to ask ourselves how well we reflect that mercy.
I think that there are at least three ways we can focus on mercy. On an international level, we can pray about how mercy can help resolve the crises of wars.
On an interpersonal level, we can examine how we live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy for others.
On a personal level, this Year of Mercy invites each of us to humbly and honestly approach the Father in order to receive his amazing gift of merciful forgiveness.
As to the last point, I, as a priest, have the great honor of being the unworthy vessel through whom the Father dispenses his mercy. This Year of Mercy has been a time for me to reflect on what a gift this is to me from the Father.
In every individual confession, God is reconciling the penitent to himself and to the church, and he is pouring his healing balm on a soul . . . through little old me. What an incredible privilege! When I was ordained a priest, I was very nervous about hearing confessions. Who was I to sit in such a sacred space? What would I offer to that moment?
As I began to hear confessions, I realized that I did not have much to offer, at least not from myself. But I did have to offer what God had infused into me at my ordination: the Holy Spirit. It was the same gift given to the apostles and all ordained priests over the centuries.
When I realized this, I stopped being nervous and started seeing confession as perhaps the most fulfilling part of my ministry.
I think most of my fellow priests would agree. It is a gift we cherish, but it is one we would love to share, and I don’t just mean with penitents. We would love to witness the ordination of many other men, seeing them receive Christ’s power to reconcile sinners to God and his church.
So, to all of you young men, I urge you in this Year of Mercy to consider whether God is calling you to be a minister of mercy. If you want to reconcile people with God on a daily basis, consider being a priest. If you want to be the vessel through whom God heals the body of Christ, consider being a priest. If you want to change lives through the profound gift of God’s forgiveness, then, for mercy’s sake, consider being a priest!!