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Blast from the Past: Mercy - To Go

Posted: April 06, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo

(Originally posted April 14, 2010.)

Here’s an interesting story.  I was en route to another city, walking through a busy airport.  I noticed this guy staring at me.  Any priest, especially in this day and age, walking through a busy airport will always get these awkward stares. I originally thought he was going to ask if I was the priest he saw on Food Network. I’ve been getting that frequently after the "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay".

The moment of the surprise Throwdown!

He didn’t approach me because of my delicious dishes, but because a priest wearing the Roman collar signifies a generous portion of God’s mercy. God’s mercy!

My nephew, Emmanuel, wanted to see what it would look like if he were a priest. I say, pretty good. I’d really enjoy having him as my associate pastor someday!

Without asking for it specifically, he wanted to go to Confession. I should have known. I should have known God was at work in a special way that day. It was Divine Mercy Sunday!

Image of Jesus, the Divine Mercy.

Without breaking the seal of the confession, I can say this pastoral moment was a unique outpouring of God’s infinite goodness. This man, who seemed to have it all, internally was “begging” to be welcomed back to the Father’s House. He was Baptized Catholic, but stepped away from the Church at a very young age. He claims it was because he was disappointed in the hypocrisy he saw from leaders and the people in the pew. While that may seem like a legitimate reason, I don’t buy it, and neither did he. He eventually admitted that his departure from church and religion in general (like the majority of people who leave the Church) was simply because he wanted to live his life precisely the way he wanted to live it – without anyone else having any say how. By leaving the Church, he could make up his own rules, his own morals, and his own destiny – without any moral consequences. 

It’s true, hypocrisy in the Church is frustrating and discouraging.  But there is no perfect church because it is full of people who are sinners. People who go to church, including priests and nuns, aren’t there because they are perfect. People should go to church because they recognize that despite their sins, God forgives and helps us to be better. When people start accepting the humanity of the Church, they will begin to see the divinity of our calling and go to church more faithfully.

Pilgrims on the way to the Basilica of Orvieto, Italy – March 2009.

Back to the airport story:  This guy walked up next to me and simply asked, “What do I do with all of my problems and sins?”  He didn’t have a lot of carry-on luggage, but carried his share of baggage much the same. My job was to lighten his load and allow him to carry God’s ultimate message of Mercy with him to his true final destination: Heaven.

Talk about asking for a priest to dish out God’s mercy, but mercy “to go?”

While he could barely remember how to go to Confession, his heart knew exactly what to do: admit the sin, be sorry for it, and promise to not do those things again. He didn’t know the Act of Contrition, but he did know how to be contrite. He also did not even know the Our Father. No one ever really taught him to pray. Thank God for the prayer applications he promised to download to his phone. On Divine Mercy Sunday, I helped this man make his 1st Confession in almost 15 years!  

Penitent going to confession.

There we were in the middle of this airport’s intersection – a “Cross” in the roadway of life.  At the heart of this busy airport intersection, I inconspicuously raised my hand over this penitent and prayed the words of absolution. He asked for Mercy, and God gave it. Just like that. While this only took a few minutes (we both had flights to make), this wasn’t a cheap form of “fast food” faith. It was a sincere act of faith that will linger forever! This man knows the next trip he is going to take will be to his local church to talk with the pastor. He knows there is need for a more detailed examination of conscious and a new itinerary to get his life back on track.

What a way to celebrate the Divine Mercy of God’s bountiful goodness.  It shows that the grace of the Church’s ministry of mercy, while perfectly received when we go to church for Confession, is also meant to be served as “carry out.”  I think that’s why Jesus gave his Apostles the great command: Go out to all the world and spread the Good News!

International Pilgrims in Lourdes, France – Pilgrimage in May 2009.

In this day and age, we who share in the Communion of the Lord have to remember that we shouldn’t take our faith seriously only when we are in church. We must take our faith with us wherever we go. And that’s the best way to live God’s merciful love: to go – whether we’re walking out after Mass or walking to our connecting flight!

Let us Pray:

Father, help us to experience Your grace of mercy and forgiveness.  In a special way, we pray for all people to return to the sacrament of reconciliation.  Help the Church to be an instrument of this great gift.  May all who desire forgiveness never fear to ask for it.  Help the world to see that forgiveness is offered anywhere, everywhere, and anytime!  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Upcoming Events 

Pictures from a special GBM presentation at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ on 4/5/16, remembering Msgr. Cafone, a lover of bringing food and faith together. 


Fr. Leo will be presenting at a number of different presentations this month, so check out the upcoming events, including the 5th Annual Maine Catholic Women’s Conference this Saturday, April 9, 2016, and special presentations on the Sign of the Cross and the Blessed Virgin Mother at St. John the Evangelist in Hydes, MD on April 11 and 12, 2016. Additionally, click the link below to check out Fr. Leo's upcoming pilgrimages for you to check out and register for, including a Taste of Italy August 15-26, 2016 and's October 6-16, 2016 trip to Rome, detailed below.

Check out more videos featuring Fr. Leo and his trip to Italy at