Joy at Demontreville

Demontreville is the name of a lake in the St. Paul suburb of Lake Elmo. It's also the name by which most people know the Jesuit Retreat House that is located here. I gave my first retreat here in 1986 and have given over 60 retreats since then. The retreats start at 7 PM on Thursday and end at 7 PM on Sunday. They are silent retreats for men and consist of 14 half hour talks that lead the retreatants through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

I'm giving the retreat this weekend and, as always happens, I can tell how I'll be feeling around 4:30 PM on Saturday afternoon. Not tired. Not down. Consoled and "flying high" would be the best description. Why? On Saturday the period after the 2:30 PM talk is set aside for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The 71 men on retreat this weekend all had the opportunity to go to confession to one of four Jesuit confessors. I know from experience that when the time for confession is over I'll be feeling the way I'm feeling now.

As a priest, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most consoling things that I do. Through it I get to share in the joy that Jesus has in forgiving sins. I believe that this was the greatest thrill that He had when He walked this earth. He came to take away the sins of the world and it gave Him great pleasure to tell people, "Go in peace, your sins are forgiven." And so as His instrument of forgiveness today, I share in the pleasure He feels every time people bring their burden of sins, say they are sorry, and ask for pardon and absolution.