Faith for the Journey of Life

My Thoughts on Faith, Life, and 2,000+ Years of Catholicism / Christianity

09 October 2006

The Sacrament of Reconciliation and a Trip to the Sandbox

As instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and administered by our Holy Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a vital way for us sinners to be reconciled with God and renew our friendship with Him. Last year, the importance of this Sacrament took on a whole new significance when I was mobilized and deployed to Iraq.

On the day that I left for Iraq last year, I stood talking with a Navy chaplain in the terminal of the air base that we were leaving from. A young Marine approached us. Like us, he would soon be boarding a plane to fly to Iraq and an uncertain future. With an apparent look of unease, he asked if the chaplain was a Catholic priest and if he could hear a confession.

I could easily relate to the Marine's concerns. We were about to depart for a war zone and no one except God knew for certain what lay in store for us. Iraq is not a place you want to go to with a soul full of unconfessed sin.

Just a month prior I was filled with the same anxieties. I was mobilized for service in Iraq with just six days to prepare. The unit that I was being assigned to had already deployed. I was supposed to catch up with it in Iraq, so time was critical. I had a million things to do and just a few days to get them done. Since I was heading into a war zone, making a good confession and getting right with the Lord was a high priority for me.

I made an appointment with a priest friend of mine - Father Maz - to receive the Sacrament. Unfortunately, in the rush to get ready for mobilization, I was unable to make the appointment and had to call Father to cancel. Over the phone he prayed to our Blessed Mother for my protection.

Needless to say, I was quite anxious about when I would get a chance to confess. I fully expected to be in Iraq in less than a week and I wanted to receive absolution before I got there.

Shortly after talking with Father Maz, I drove past Our Lady of Fatima Church located near my air base in Pennsylvania. Remembering that the church had Perpetual Adoration, I stopped in to talk to Jesus. As I walked into the Adoration Chapel, I saw a priest praying in the front pew.

I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences with God. So I saw that priest's presence in the Adoration Chapel for what it was: God looking out for me. Dressed in my summer white Navy uniform, I walked up to the priest and said, "Excuse me, Father. I am heading to Iraq in a few days. Could you hear my confession?" So in the presence of Our Lord, I made my Confession and received absolution from that priest.

As it turned out, getting me to Iraq took longer than anticipated. A month later, I was in the air base terminal in North Carolina talking with a Navy Chaplain when a young Marine approached us looking for a priest to confess to. Unfortunately, this chaplain was Christian but not a Catholic priest.

But there was another Navy Chaplain traveling with us who was a Catholic priest. After a few minutes of searching, I located the Catholic Chaplain and brought the Marine to him. As best could be done under the circumstances, the Marine confessed his sins and received absolution from the Catholic Chaplain right there in the air terminal.

Just like God took care of me in the Adoration Chapel back in Pennsylvania, God took care of this Marine in that air terminal in North Carolina. We both boarded the plane for Iraq, still uncertain of the future but certain of God's love for us and His boundless mercy. For those who seek God with a repentant heart, God will not keep His mercy for them.


  • At 5:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a touching story. It's nice to know that God was able to provide a Priest when you and that other marine really needed one.


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