Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Encountering the Risen Christ in the Sacraments: An Addendum From the Day

Scholastic matters brought me to my university's campus, unusual since normally I am in my office on Thursdays. Confessions are scheduled there for a couple hours before mid-day, and I had a bit of free time, so I slipped in. The priest listened patiently. I try not to make confessions perfunctorily, but to put my heart into it, to give myself back to Jesus. I ask Him to take me back, to come back to me, to come back into me, and to draw me back to Himself.

"Don't be discouraged. Perseverance is the key thing in the Christian life," Father, whose given name I will never know, told me from behind the screen. "Jesus will always be here waiting, waiting for you. However deep the woundedness runs in you, remember that God's love runs deeper." He spoke simple words to me and a power beyond those words and filling them entered into me. As I left the anonymous confines of the box where, nameless, I am known in some ways better to a stranger and to God than to anyone else, the spring was back in my step.

"That's right. God does love me. He does have a plan for me. And I am on the right track. How silly of me to have forgotten. Thanks, Jesus."

My penance was also simple but clever. He said, "Pray to the Virgin, who knows what each soul needs, to suggest an acquaintance who needs prayers, and for that person offer an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be. Now make your Act of Contrition and I will give you absolution." The privatest of sacraments, Confession, is still very much a public thing. The priest stands in for Christ and the Church. I, while confessing only my own sins, in that moment somehow symbolize the whole Church in our sinfulness, returning to the Eternal Father. In some way, I even symbolize Jesus, offering Himself (though He was perfect and did so perfectly) to the Father. My pride being as immense as it is, I am very grateful for the anonymity, and awed by the love that transcends it without violating it.

Another thing that hits me again in a fresh way is that I prayed for someone who at that moment, as far as I know, needed it more than anyone else I know. And he or she will not know until heaven that those little prayers were offered on their behalf.

A last thing strikes me. Maybe someone is praying for me right now. Maybe someone in the Body of Christ, right now, is praying for you, dear reader. It's a beautiful thought that we are loved and cared for far beyond our knowledge. In fact, I think as I lay falling asleep, I will mutter a few decades for all of you, especially whichever of you needs them most. God knows.

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