Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. (Evangelii Gaudium, # 3)

When I read this statement, my first reaction was "Ouch!"

I will admit that I have become something of a papal observer since this Pope was elected. During the conclave, I became acquainted with a web site called Now I visit it every day. Sometimes there isn't much to report. However, the web site has made it very clear that the Pope is a busy man.

However, because I visit it often, I have heard Pope Francis say many times that God does not tire of forgiving us. This is the first time that I have heard the second part of that statement: We are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. I cannot help but admit this is true for me. I suspect that it is true for many.

As a friar of the Sacred Heart Province, I am connected to our ministry at St. Peter's in the Loop, downtown Chicago. I once lived in that friary for five years and have served as a part time member of the staff for over twenty years. I have heard many, many confessions over the years. Though the confessionals at St. Peter's are still the "anonymous" kind, one begins to recognize voices of those who frequent the sacrament even though it is impossible to connect those voices to a face. I know of many people who seek forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a weekly or monthly basis so not everyone has tired of asking for God's merciful love.

I can also say that it has become almost routine for me to tell the penitent that God loves them. No matter what conversation we may have in the course of the celebration of the sacrament, I usually conclude with this remark. I have had only one penitent argue with me about that point.

But. . ., and this is a big but, I have to admit that I have personally grown tired of asking for forgiveness. Like everyone else, my "laundry list" is all too familiar. I believe it was Qoheleth that said, "Nothing new under the sun." This is so true of my life.

Advent begins tomorrow. I already know what I need to do this time around. Perhaps you could join me in approaching God's mercy.

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