Each month, Bishop Hendricken Chaplain Father Christopher Murphy will share thoughts, observations and reflections to help guide us through the Church year.
Monthly Reflections: March 2017 – The Sacrament of Confession: A perspective from the other side of the screen
In his best-selling autobiography, the Trappist monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton recalls his first confession after a radical conversion from a life of decadence to a spiritual journey that would lead to a monastery in Nelson County, Kentucky. Merton remembers kneeling down in the confessional and seeing the outline of the priest on the other side of the screen. As he prepared to confess a lifetime worth of sins he thought “Poor man!” and then began his first confession.
Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, we invite a dozen priests to Bishop Hendricken to hear confessions. I’m always proud of our young men who turn out in good number to take advantage of the opportunity. Confession presents a challenge for many people and raises questions such as, What do I say? Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? and probably the most common, What will the priest think of me? My life as a priest answered this last question in a surprising fashion. We may approach the confessional like Thomas Merton, thinking our sins will either offend or embarrass or anger the priest. What I have discovered as a confessor is precisely the opposite. When a person comes to me to reveal their heart, my chief sentiment is deep reverence and respect for the penitent. What courage and faith it requires to acknowledge sin and trust in God’s mercy! I have never been surprised, hurt, or angered in the confessional. I have always been humbled. I share this with the hope that those who have any doubts about the presence of God’s mercy in confession might have encouragement through a perspective from the other side of the screen. Thomas Merton relates his feelings after his first confession, “I did not have any time to feel how relieved I was when I came stumbling out…but ever since that day, I have loved confessionals.” May the same be true for you and me.
About our Chaplain…
Fr. Christopher Murphy grew up a parishioner of St. Brendan Parish in Riverside. He graduated from Our Lady of Fatima High School and Providence College, then studied at St. John’s Seminary near Boston.
Father Murphy was ordained a priest in June, 2012, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. In addition to his role at Bishop Hendricken, he serves as an Assistant Vocations Director for the Diocese of Providence. Previously, he served as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in Narragansett.
January 2017 – Faith in the Hendricken Man
Our school’s vision states that the Hendricken man is confident in the power of the Gospel to meet the challenges of the future. In other words, the Hendricken man has faith. He knows that living faith instructs daily living. It reveals to him the sanctity of human life. It compels him to care for life at every stage. It inspires him to make a gift of his own life.
I have heard many powerful testimonies of men who received the gift of faith during their time at Bishop Hendricken High School. One of them recently shared with me that he believed this faith forever changed, and in a way saved, his life. These men have since put their Catholic faith into action by serving the country, their family, and the Church. Did you know that three of the men currently studying for priesthood in the Diocese of Providence are Hendricken graduates? Over a dozen of our priests currently serving are former Hawks. They now return to the school throughout the year to bring our students Christ in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
Around this time each year we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. It provides an opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the rich Catholic tradition that continues to form our boys. We thank God that we can speak of Christ and to Christ in our corridors and classrooms. We praise God in our Masses and devotions. We ask God to continue to protect and bless our school, so that more faith filled men will serve and lead our communities and the Church. The Hendricken man is confident in the power of the Gospel to meet the challenges of the future. He must be. And so must we.