FR. MOGAVERO: "I GATHERED
UP TEARS IN THE TENT OF PARDON"
Talks about Hearing Youths' Confessions
"By the grace of God, I was 'roasted.'
This is what first comes to mind when I think of
the 7 hours spent in scorching heat with an alb and stole in the
Circus Maximus, a real open air church of God's mercy," said
Fr. Franco Mogavero, as he began to describe his experience.
"Thousands upon thousands of youth passed
through the door of this 'temple' to cry from the heart that 'Christ
is the only treasure of life.' This is what Laria told me, when she
finished her confession... I did not find myself with routine
confessions, but witnessed meetings with the Lord, coupled with the
desire to be instruments
of hope in daily life," the priest said.
This was confirmed by Ugo, 23, from Palermo.
"Confession is not just the time when you empty the sack of
your own sins, but it is a loving petition to God and a commitment
to believe more in humanity and in our capacity to give and receive
The greater part of the youth who went to
confession, "did not show signs of unease or shame, but of joy
and profound emotion. Daniela told me: 'I am not afraid of the
priest. I go to confession regularly every two months and, recently,
I have also found a spiritual director. All youths should have one,
they must find one,'" Fr. Mogavero recalled.
"In the 'tent of pardon' I gathered up the
tears of those young people who, once again, wanted to question past
options that are far from Gospel values. All had consciences that
were alive as, for example, that a sexual relationship is the
crowning of matrimony; no one challenged the Church's
The youth left "enveloped in intense, but not
overly excited, joy from having experienced the Father's embrace,
who saw them from afar, was moved, and blessed them. As they left
the tents, volunteers accompanied them to the center of the Circus
Maximus, where the World Youth Day cross stands. Each penitent
picked up a grain of incense and placed it in one of four lit
censers. Before accompanying them, Elena, one of the 200 volunteers
in the temple of mercy, explained to me: 'It is a thanksgiving
gesture for the forgiveness received and an expression of joy
because of recovered communion with God.' Her words stirred my
curiosity; I remained under the cross for a while and I immediately
noticed an atmosphere of profound prayer. The silence around me was
broken by the constant chirping of the cicadas, which seemed to be
eager to participate in the concert of God's mercy," Fr.
When the confessors met at the end of the day, a
French priest said he had an exceptional case. He heard the
confession of a Frenchman who had not been to this sacrament in his
"On my way back, I was accompanied by a river
of young people. It was the face of the Church on the road, that
Church I had served a few minutes earlier. When I returned to the
parish, I wrote in my diary: 'I will sing of your mercy forever, the
only certainty in life,'" Fr. Mogavero concluded.