Just recently a priest I know told me how he has been planning to completely refurbish the confessional inside his parish church. It struck me as a very edifying and indeed timely thing to do especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, when there is such a huge emphasis upon the the need and call for as many souls as possible to “be reconciled to Christ” in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. But if that piece of news wasn’t edifying enough what completely took me by (a most pleasant) surprise was the fact that after he announced to his parishioners that the project would cost around £5,000, lo and behold a family approached him after Sunday Mass to tell him that they had decided to donate the entire amount as a personal donation to get the project done. The reason? They have a child going through the First Holy Communion programme in the parish and who later this year will be preparing to make his first confession as part of that preparation. They told the priest that since the new confessional was going to be a place where their son would receive the grace and mercy of God regularly in the future, they wanted to make this gesture as their commitment to his ongoing spiritual and faith formation, as well as it being a concrete sign to them as his parents of their participation in the life of the parish.
What a stunning act of generosity for the parish community and a kindness to help ease the burden of fundraising upon the priest. More to the point what a great example to their child of almsgiving, out of love for one of the sacred sacraments of the Church which will benefit many to come in the future. Obviously not everyone can afford such largesse and it’s a blessing of the more prosperous among us when by humble faith, they can see things in the way that God sees things and give of their abundance in such a life-giving manner.
Most important of all will be the memory of this act of faith placed upon the experience of their child in his formative years of faith in his relationship with Christ and the Church.
Lent is for prayer, fasting and almsgiving and it’s crucial our children at some point, if not frequently, witness our practising these virtues in whatever scale is appropriate for us, so that they in turn learn the language of giving, loving and forgiving.