“‘Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.’
...And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
‘Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?’
She replied, ‘No one, sir.’
Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’”
Before I was ordained a priest and was serving in a parish as a deacon, the one thing my pastor at the time (now Bishop Spalding of Nashville) required me to memorize was the formula for absolution. These are the words the priest says at the end of your confession which begin, “God, the Father of mercies...,” and end with, “...I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He admonished me, “You’ll need this right away, best be ready.” How right he was! Less than half an hour after I was ordained, at the reception in the undercroft of the Cathedral of the Assumption, a man pulled me aside and asked, “Father, will you hear my confession?” Okay. Gulp. Here we go.