Eugene’s own conversion experience had been the awareness of God’s boundless love and mercy:

Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy

Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130

He describes how he experienced the closeness of God’s love once he had acknowledged his sinfulness:

you forgot all my acts of ingratitude to help me as powerfully as if I had been always faithful to you; my tender father, who carried this rebel on your shoulders, warmed him against your heart, washed his wounds, etc.

Notes made during the retreat in preparation for priestly ordination
1-21 December , EO XIV n. 95

He is describing the experience of being “hugged” by God

Now, the Missionary – the “co-operator of the Savior” – has to treat the sinner in exactly the same manner as he has been treated:

For the rest, let the missionaries always be ready to welcome sinners with inexhaustible charity. Let them encourage the penitents by their pleasant manner, and by showing a compassionate heart.
In a word, let them treat them as they themselves would wish to be treated if they were in the same unfortunate condition.

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §2 Regarding Confession

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of why I ask to receive the sacrament – yes to bring my sins, my weaknesses and brokenness outside of myself and into the light; also to receive absolution – to hear those words. And to run into the embrace of my Beloved – to be hugged by God.

    There was a song that was popular many years ago:

    I forgive you, I love you
    You are mine, take my hand.
    Go in peace, sin no more,
    Beloved one.

    I remember almost forty years ago taking Step 5 (of the AA 12 Steps) with a Franciscan Brother who listened and held my heart – he regretted that he could not give me absolution but pointed me towards one of his brothers who could. Not long after that I found myself walking with a priest and telling him my story. He invited me to finish my story after dinner during “Reconciliation” (a word that I did not know) and I agreed to take the chance. It was during the Sacrament of Reconciliation so many years ago that I first heard Jesus say my name, first heard him tell me how beloved I was. I heard and experienced and found all that I had been yearning for during my life. I have never forgotten that first meeting with Tender Compassion and being “hugged by God”.

    I too listen to people with love and compassion, taking what they share – holding it for it is sacred; and embracing them, speaking with them, celebrating them and urging them to consider the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is my role in this vast family – all in the hope that Jesus will speak to them as he did me and that they come to know what it is to be lavished with love and hugged endlessly as only our Beloved can do.

    I think of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’ – the father running out to embrace the son, to lavish him with love and forgiveness, to celebrate his return. The son being ‘hugged’ by his father who did not hold anything back. As Eugene said: “Blessed, a thousand times blessed, that he, this good Father, notwithstanding my unworthiness, lavished on me all the richness of his mercy.”

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