I was asked to hear confessions Dec. 23 at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md., close to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary where I teach. When I arrived, I noted on the door that the shrine was closed for the day, out of caution for the faithful, due to the cold and wind gusts around 50 miles per hour.
As I returned to the car, I saw two persons walking toward the shrine. I informed them that the shrine was closed but that if they wished to confess, we could use my car since nothing else was open. They were grateful.
The penitents kept coming. I heard 17 confessions in my car that day. A young man stood in the cold for the entire period to explain to those who wanted to confess what had happened and to direct them to me.
I considered that episode to be an unmerited grace that I received, an expected gift from God.
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