By Linda Bordoni
On Friday, Pope Francis brought World Youth Day to Panama’s young people who are not able to participate in the event.
He celebrated a special Penitential Liturgy inside the Las Garzas de Pacora detention center in Panama and heard the inmates’ confessions inside confessionals the young detainees had made themselves.
Across the city meanwhile, Catholic priests have been the hearing confessions of WYD participants in parishes and in specially set up spaces.
Amongst them, Father John Paul Hudson from the diocese of Austin, Texas, in the United States.
He spoke to Sean-Patrick Lovett about the humbling experience of hearing confessions.
Speaking of the Sacrament, Fr John explains that for the priest hearing the confession, what is more important than what is actually said, is to hear the real repentance, but, he says “ I also hear the joy underneath! When somebody is asked to say the Act of Contrition and they say ‘Amen’, I can hear the lifting in the voice”.
“It’s like you’ve been carrying a hundred pound sack for a mile and then when you set it down there is a spring in your step” he says.
Fr John says that in such occasions you know the Holy Spirit is involved in moving these people to make a good confession.
Sean asks the Catholic priest: “what does it feel like to take that hundred pound sack off somebody’s shoulders?”
Fr John describes it as a very humbling experience. He says he trusts in the Holy Spirit to give him the words to say, and of course “it also very humbling to be there in the place of Christ”.
To the question “Is confession is going out of fashion?” Father Hudson says no, and says that apart from the intense experience of WYD, he hears confessions almost every day in his own parish.
“It is deeply connected to the faith”, he says, “and the realization that we are all sinners and we need God’s grace more than ever”.