When I give a talk on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Mercy of God, I sometimes will bring out a ceramic vase which my mother found at a rummage sale. It is gaudy with ugly tones of blood red, lenten purple and Franciscan brown. I remove the cork and will say, “This vase contains some of the most vile, horrible sins that I have ever heard in my life as a priest.
Sometimes people come to make a general confession with long lists of their sins. Sometimes people come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation saying that they are beyond redemption, that they have committed unforgiveable sins and are unworthy to receive God’s Mercy. I like to remind people who question the unforgivability of their sin, that God’s mercy is greater than their sin. I will sometimes give a cross or a rosary to someone for whom I can see that this is a particularly powerful moment of conversion in their life and will ask them to keep this sacramental in their pocket, and whenever they are reminded of their past and forgiven sins and are pulled off center by these thoughts, that they should hold the cross or rosary and repeat simply, ‘Jesus, your Mercy is greater than my sin. Help me to claim your Mercy.’ Especially during Lent I like to bring out this vase full of forgiven sins and to share with people the power of God’s Mercy in my life and in the lives of others. That is why this vase is called a ‘Sinerator’. If we take seriously the words of Jesus that He died for our sins and that when He rose from the dead He gave the power to forgive sins to the Apostles, then we will gladly bring our sins to the Lord in this Sacrament. What a powerful blessing it is to be a priest, a pencil in God’s hands, to act in ‘persona Christi Capitis’ and to witness the transformation that God’s Mercy has in people’s lives.” a. John 20: “…whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”