"...I Don't Care At All!"

Some years ago, there was an Archbishop of Paris who was known far and wide for his sacrificial spirit. One Sunday morning, when he was preaching to a great congregation in the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, he told about an incident that had happened there some years earlier. Three young men, irreverent, selfish, worldly and godless, wandered into the cathedral one day. Two of them wagered the third that he would not make a bogus confession. The third accepted the bet and went into the confessional.

The priest who had been listening to the bogus confession realized what was happening. So when the pretending penitent had finished, the priest said,

"To every confession, there is a penance. You see the great Crucifix over there? Go to it, kneel down before it, look up into the face of the crucified Lord, and repeat aloud three times, 'All this You did for me, and I don't care at all!"

The young man emerged laughing from the confessional, reported what had happened to his friends, and asked for the wager to be paid.

"Oh no," they said, "First complete the penance, and then we will pay the wager."

Walking slowly to the great Crucifix, he knelt down and looked up into that face, with its searching eyes of sacrificial love. Then he began,

"All this You did for me, and I... I..."

He got no further. Tears flooded his eyes. His heart was torn by the pain of repentance. There his old life ended and the new began. Finishing his sermon, the Archbishop said,

"I know that is a true story, because I was that young man."