Five Minutes

When I was working at the Newman Center at the University of Utah, I was asked to help with first reconciliation at a neighboring parish, St.Theresaís. There were a large number of children ready to make their first confession, as well as a sufficient number of priests. One of the priests was a very stern and tough speaking former military chaplin.

All of the priests went to their appropriate places. I was assigned the reconciliation room. After I heard a few confessions, a little boy entered and began his confession. I welcomed him with joy and assured him of Godís mercy.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my second confession. It has been five minutes since my last confession."

"Five minutes," I hollered. "What sins did you commit in five minutes?"

"Father," the boy said sincerely, "I made my first confession with Father (the military chaplin), and he made me so mad that I thought I better confess again."

I was taken aback. I explained to him that the priest is used to working in a military setting and spoke sternly to him.

I told him that the sacrament of penance ultimately leads to joy, because the Lord forgives our sins and we experience joy.

"Your second confession is fine," I said, "and the Lord will forgive you and fill you with peace."

The boy smiled. He was relieved that he was forgiven.

"For your penance, say a prayer for priests," I told him.

When the boy left, I thought how wonderful it was that this first penitent felt comfortable to go to confession immediately after his first one. He trusted in the Lord and the Lord gave him peace and joy.

Then, I had to chuckle because that was the first and only time that I had heard, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned; it has been five minutes since my last confession."

Father Thomas Kraft, O.P. Seattle, Washington