10 priests. 250 people. By my math, that's 25 people per priest. 5 minutes per confession and that's about 2 hours and 5 minutes to ensure that all 250 people are sent home figuratively weighing less than they did when they walked in.
And that's pretty much how long it took.
The missus and I attended our first Lenten Penance Service, in fact our first Penance Service ever, last night as our Catholic journey continues and though our wait for Reconciliation was admittedly a tad long, it was worth it. And I've got to believe the vast majority of those who waited thought the same.
Take the man who stood the entire time in line (while the rest of us sat in chairs in the waiting area). He seemed nervous... even a tad on the distraught side... and was mumbling the entire time... I'm sure he was actually praying given the setting but it looked like mumbling as the man's lips seemed to be in perpetual motion... I'm certain he left weighing less than he did when he walked in.
Or the French woman in line behind us... with 4 rather fidgety kids who were exasperating her more and more as each minute passed... I imagine she was ready to leave with those kids in tow numerous times but I'm thinking the weight she was bearing kept her in line despite the delay and despite her fidgety children... I'm certain she left weighing less than she did when she walked in.
Or the woman a few seats ahead of us... with balled up tissue in each hand dabbing away tears... she could've been suffering from allergies but I'm thinking it was something more internally burdensome... in her hands also was what appeared to be a Catholic missal, one her nose was buried in for most of the night... I missed her departure but I'm certain she left weighing less than she did when she walked in.
Or the lady with the Ipad next to me, a Confessional App open to a page titled 'Examining Your Conscience', who later used that IPad to entertain the French woman's fidgety kids, succeeding in quieting them down a tad if only for a short while... a woman who at one point leaned in to me and exclaimed, "I think we're going to be here a very long time,"... a woman who stayed until the end... I'm certain she left weighing less than she did when she walked in.
Or the man whose sons used to play baseball with my sons more than a decade ago... the man who had fallen from his roof roughly two years ago and who suffered a serious and debilitating head injury and who had slowly but surely recovered from that physical burden... who attended the service with his sons, one of whom was wearing a Notre Dame swim team jacket... a man who kneeled a number of rows in front of us for what seemed to be a very long time after his confession... a man I'm sure was recovering before my very eyes from that which can also be physically burdensome... I'm certain he left weighing less than he did when he walked in.
Or our RCIA Director, who had managed to be one of the first in line and thus whose wait wasn't quite as long, who was quiet and pensive and obviously focused before going in... who came out beaming and as she walked by us said with a grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye, "I thought for for sure you folks were going to have to order out for Pizza before I got outta there"... I'm certain she left weighing less than she did when she walked in.
And then there was the guy who had recently returned to the Catholic church... who not long ago was wary of confessing to anyone but God Himself... who had confessed for the first time in 40 years not more than 4 a little more than 3 months or so ago... who had recently spoken harshly to a co-worker... who had been so weighed down by that event that he had literally made himself ill over it... I'm certain he left weighing less than he did when he walked in.
Most certain... for that guy... was me.
I'll not be able to convince anyone of the benefits of Reconciliation. But God certainly can. And my prayer for all within the Church who've not been to Confession in some time is that they go.
Weightlessness, however temporary it might be, is pretty cool.