Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mind Reading Priest

Blessed Easter to all of you! I hope to get back to doing some more in depth blogging in the next week or so, but things are so tremendously busy for me. I'd say I am in the midst of the busiest three weeks of the year for our parish. Please forgive my neglect. The last time I went to confession, I had the singular experience of what I believe to be a priest reading my mind, heart, whatever you want to call it. He knew something about what I was confessing that there is no way he could have known. I go to this priest regularly for spiritual direction, and since January he has been the only one I go to confession to. He is a member of the Miles Christi religious order, an Argentinian priestly fraternity based in Plymouth, Michigan with a focus on Ignatian spirituality and holiness in the sacred liturgy. At any rate, I was going to him for my every three week confession (this would have been about a week and a half ago). I was going through a list of things, and he suddenly stopped me when I got to a certain item. He kind of stared off blankly for a moment, like he was watching something, then looked at me and said, "This happened last night, yes?" In fact, the thing in question had occured the previous night. I don't know how he knew this - I was confessing a whole host of things, I had not seen him in three weeks, and the thing I mentioned I mentioned only by name and gave no other details. Perhaps he was reading my heart, perhaps I somehow gave it away by the way I said it or something. I don't know. But at any rate, it was really cool and gave me a lot to think about regarding how I make my confessions. Has anyone else had a similar experience?


Mr S said...

Yep..... with a Francisan whom I love dearly. He knows when to treat me with kid gloves, and when to get out the 2x4. But over time, he know me.,

However, and I think you might agree.... that when a multi-lingual priest asks a question with "yes" at the end he may not be necessarily asking for your presupposed agreement.

Not this: "you are a boy, yes" The answer is obvious.

but rather.... " you are a Catholic (or Michigander etc), yes?"

The order of which you speak is special. And perhaps they share the charism of John Vianney or Padre Pio.

When the priest can be the first to describe my sin and its details, then I need to be picked up off the floor.

Brendan D. said...

So, what did you do?!?

Enbrethiliel said...


I had a similar experience several years ago, with a priest I had never met before and never ran into again.

After I had made my confession, he told me that there was one more sin I was guilty of and hadn't mentioned--and then he told me what it was. I was stunned because he was right! It wasn't that I had been withholding information, but that I hadn't even realised I had been committing that sin.

Later in the week, I asked my parish priest whether he was taught to "deduce" sins in seminary. ("If a penitent confesses A, are you trained to suspect that he has also committed B?"--something along those lines.) Father said that seminarians are taught no such thing, then asked me why I had asked. When I shared the above, he said, his eyes twinkling, "Maybe he saw into your soul!"

Ah, Occam's Razor! ;) I got it.

Anonymous said...

This is a gift that some priests have. Yes, I have experienced it. (The first time, it was an elderly Orthodox Christian priest when I was an Orthodox catechumen; we discussed his knowledge of my interior life obliquely once. I knew, and he knew that I knew.) My advice to you is not to tell anyone else about it if the priest's identity could be discovered. Faith should not be based on these kinds of gifts. It could generate inappropriate interest. These gifts aid certain holy priests in relieving people of the burden of their sins or directing them more effectively. I believe that this is the chief reason for them.

I usually use my Google profile, but I'm going anonymous this time because I wish to follow my own advice.

Clare Mulligan said...

I believe that this gift is known as the ability to "read hearts." It is known within Catholic tradition (for instance, in the lives of St. John Vianney and St. Pio of Pietrelcina). I believe that, while it is not common among priests, it is not as rare as most of us think. We should be grateful that God gives us "other Christs," who can provide us the greatest possible assistance, even to the point of remembering for us sins that we ourselves have forgotten. I cannot imagine what this experience must be like subjectively for those priests who have this gift. I suspect, though, that this is but one beautiful expression of the Communion of Saints. Let's not forget the greatest daily miracle: the Blessed Sacrament.

Anonymous said...

I made the spiritual exercises with the Miles Christi priests in Oxford, Michigan a few years back. I'd wished I could do it every year but right now can't afford it. I had been going to confession monthly at the day of recollection when the Miles Christi priests come to Cincinnati (100 miles from me in Louisville, ky) I havent been to the days of recollection in almost a year (not for lack of wanting to). They are excellent. I used to go to Father Xavier as my confessor. I wish I lived nearer to them for spiritual direction.

Anonymous said...

I know this comment is old, but can you tell me where that happened?

Boniface said...

Hi Anon. Assuming your question was to the original post, this happened in the chapel of Madonna Univeristy in Livonia, Michigan, which was at the time being staffed by a priest of the Miles Christi, who was subsequently transferred to Mexico and I have no seen him since.