When we met, I wasn’t Catholic. I wasn’t part of the people you are called to care for. But I came to you, and you spoke with me, I suppose because “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the Master’s table.” You did not give me the sacrament of confession. I was not prepared to receive it. Instead, you gave me the gift of your presence.
It was late. You were tired. But you listened to me, and you counseled me. I had the weight of a particular sin crushing my heart. I let shame consume me with hatred for myself. You met that shame with love. I don’t remember your name or your face. But I do remember your advice. You gave me the name of a book to read and a prayer to pray. I read that book. I prayed that prayer, the Divine Mercy chaplet, before the Blessed Sacrament every day for a month. And in that prayer, I was transformed. God took my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. He welcomed me home and I was his daughter once more.
Since that time, I have been received into the Church. I partake in the sacraments. I’ve been privileged to share in the mission of Christ as a youth minister and teacher. I entered into the covenant of marriage and our two children have been baptized into his Church. I will never be able to thank you. My life has been utterly transformed because you took the time to sit with me and counsel me. And you will never know. You will never know the good that you have done for me – the good that you have done for Christ.
So please, dear priest, do not give up hope. Whatever sins you most certainly have committed in your life, that did not stop Jesus from working though you to heal my soul and transform my entire life. Whatever you have done, your brother priests have done, trust these sins to the ocean of God’s mercy. Please continue the work that God has entrusted to you. There is real good, real mercy, real grace in the sacraments and in your ministry.
This letter is for you, and for all the priests who will never see the tangible results of their ministry. This may be a dark time, but God is here in the darkness with us. We will not stop praying. We will not let sin have the last word. We will fix our eyes on the resurrection that comes with the dawn.