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I Forgot What You Said

She came up to me after Mass one Sunday and said, "I still think that I would like more advice about that thing." "What thing?" I said. "You know, what I told you in Confession." "I'm sorry, but I do not remember the majority of what I hear in the confessional; you are going to have to say it again--in private."

Another time, I was asked (about 90 minutes after Confession was over) "did you understand what I said?" I responded, "Please understand, it is not that I do not care, but that I heard twelve confessions in that half hour, so I do not know which person you were, nor do I remember what I heard there." "Really? REALLY?!" was her answer. "Yes, really; by the grace of God priests usually do not remember."

How does that work? That is like asking how the Holy Spirit thinks. Not possible to answer. The funny thing is, I hear numerous confessions in an average week (not including the ones that I get asked to hear outside of my normal schedule) and I know that many of them rip at my heart to hear the pain that many people are in. I agonize with people in their penitence and do my best to help them bear their grief, but (literally) minutes later I forget almost everything I have heard. I remember the heartache I feel, but not the sins that caused it.

Oddly, I have a very vivid memory (which also happens to be photographic); God has given me a grace to retain things like few people can do. I can remember details of Scripture, Canon Laws, and theological points. I can recall counseling sessions I had with people years ago, but not the sins confessed to me under the seal. There is no explanation for this; outside of miraculous grace, of course. God is truly amazing.


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