In these days, we have been immersed in preparations for the pastoral visit of our Bishop Mons. Joaguìn and his auxiliary Mons. José: they will be with us for two weeks and will be visiting all the activities of our parish. I will let you imagine the excitement buzzing amongst the older women.
I have recently finished the first session of exams at my university, and I have to say that they went surprisingly well, given the small amount of time I was able to dedicate to studying. Some of the courses that I am taking are very interesting, especially because they are making me reflect on Europe, its history, and the cultural crisis that we are going through.
Also in the school where I teach things are going well: when I go to teach the high schoolers, I try to pass a bit of time with the children of the elementary school, partly because I enjoy seeing them, but mostly because the other teachers seek me out, they want to “take advantage” of the presence of a priest.
I want to tell you about one aspect that has been striking me lately and been nourishing my time of silence: Confession. Always more frequent is the experience of being in the confessional with people who have been away from the sacrament for years. Normally I don’t ask questions when I am confessing, and so I don’t know exactly what happened, or for what reason after so much time they were unblocked and decided to come back to be confessed. However, it is clear that the heart is capable of recognizing evil, and that it also needs to know that there exists Someone who can forgive.
Frequently the penitent is not able to handle the weight accumulated during the long period and they begin to cry. To be honest, it is difficult for me not cry as well: they are moments of such transparency before God, very true and very sincere, that cannot leave one indifferent.
One time, a person who had been living away from the Church for many years, immediately after leaving the confessional returned to ask: “Father, are you really sure that God has forgiven me?”. “yes” I said, “it is a gift that the Lord has established in his Church. When one confesses, it is God who forgives them”. “But I don’t need to do anything else? I am really already forgiven?”. “No. You don’t need to do anything else. It is called mercy”. Bursting into tears, and unable to stop saying: “thank you. Thank you. Thank you”. All those “Thanks” remained impressed in me, and are slowly becoming my own. Thanks first of all for my vocation, because it allows me to see, from a special point of view, that there exists a love which is always bigger and stronger than evil, than betrayal, than forgetfulness.
I believe that these episodes are some of the most beautiful fruits God has given me, especially after the year of Mercy, and especially in my first year of priesthood.
In the photo, Fr. Stefano Motta with a few teenagers from the parish of San Juan Bautista, in Fuenlabrada.