World Youth Day - News


Talks about Hearing Youths' Confessions

"By the grace of God, I was 'roasted.'

This is what first comes to mind when I think of the 7 hours spent in scorching heat with an alb and stole in the Circus Maximus, a real open air church of God's mercy," said Fr. Franco Mogavero, as he began to describe his experience.

"Thousands upon thousands of youth passed through the door of this 'temple' to cry from the heart that 'Christ is the only treasure of life.' This is what Laria told me, when she finished her confession... I did not find myself with routine confessions, but witnessed meetings with the Lord, coupled with the desire to be instruments of hope in daily life," the priest said.

This was confirmed by Ugo, 23, from Palermo. "Confession is not just the time when you empty the sack of your own sins, but it is a loving petition to God and a commitment to believe more in humanity and in our capacity to give and receive love."

The greater part of the youth who went to confession, "did not show signs of unease or shame, but of joy and profound emotion. Daniela told me: 'I am not afraid of the priest. I go to confession regularly every two months and, recently, I have also found a spiritual director. All youths should have one, they must find one,'" Fr. Mogavero recalled.

"In the 'tent of pardon' I gathered up the tears of those young people who, once again, wanted to question past options that are far from Gospel values. All had consciences that were alive as, for example, that a sexual relationship is the crowning of matrimony; no one challenged the Church's teachings."

The youth left "enveloped in intense, but not overly excited, joy from having experienced the Father's embrace, who saw them from afar, was moved, and blessed them. As they left the tents, volunteers accompanied them to the center of the Circus Maximus, where the World Youth Day cross stands. Each penitent picked up a grain of incense and placed it in one of four lit censers. Before accompanying them, Elena, one of the 200 volunteers in the temple of mercy, explained to me: 'It is a thanksgiving gesture for the forgiveness received and an expression of joy because of recovered communion with God.' Her words stirred my curiosity; I remained under the cross for a while and I immediately noticed an atmosphere of profound prayer. The silence around me was broken by the constant chirping of the cicadas, which seemed to be eager to participate in the concert of God's mercy," Fr. Mogavero said.

When the confessors met at the end of the day, a French priest said he had an exceptional case. He heard the confession of a Frenchman who had not been to this sacrament in his whole life.

"On my way back, I was accompanied by a river of young people. It was the face of the Church on the road, that Church I had served a few minutes earlier. When I returned to the parish, I wrote in my diary: 'I will sing of your mercy forever, the only certainty in life,'" Fr. Mogavero concluded.



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