Need I say more?
I have been blogging about how some priests spend more time in the public eye (social media, mass media) they think the power of the Sacrament of Holy Orders made them instant "rock stars" (right John Allen?).
And we hear a cardinal calls for more mercy to divorced and remarried Catholics to be re-admitted to Holy Communion, which is an implicit way of undermining the Sacrament of Matrimony, giving the impression to the divorcee and other Catholics that divorcee is not in a state of mortal sin and therefore can receive Holy Communion!
But on the other side, on the issue of dispensing the Mercy of the Lord through the Sacrament of Reconciliation / Penance...where have all our priests gone? Have you seen them regularly in the confessional?
Here is a great point of discussion from Cardinal Piacenza about the priest's work of dispensing God's mercy.
Priests should sit and wait patiently for faithful in the confessional at times that are convenient for penitents. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said this this afternoon during the inauguration of the course on the inner conscience, the private inner space of each individual. The week-long course has become something of a tradition. It will be taking place in the Chancery office and attended by about five hundred priests and seminarists who are approaching ordination. The meeting will conclude Friday with an Audience with [pope] Francis. In the afternoon there will be a penitential liturgy in the St. Peter’s Basilica, when the Pope will confess some of those present, inaugurating the “feast of forgiveness”, during which churches will stay open 24/7 for confessions. [Has your diocese or parish done something similar?]
The Sacrament of Reconciliation “is possibly the most concrete and real way to renew one’s personal meeting with Jesus Christ,” Piacenza said. Although it is true that the celebration of this sacrament often comes after a long and trying inner journey and is a destination one reaches after a previous personal Church-mediated encounter with the Lord, there are cases of radical conversions taking place during the very celebration of the sacrament. During this time, a supernatural grace acts through the confessor, working on the penitent’s conscience and can lead to brief instants of unimaginable spiritual highs.”
“When we deal with the inner conscience, what we’re dealing with is God!,” the cardinal said. “The conscience is a shrine where God always speaks to all humans in accordance with creation and to Christians in accordance with creation and redemption… Accompanying a brother in the process of discerning his or her personal way of acting and receiving everything that emerges from the inner conscience, means entering into sacred territory with this person and one needs to be extremely careful when doing so. It’s like walking on silk.”
Piacenza invited confessors to prepare for the celebration of this sacrament by “invoking the Spirit of prudence and wisdom, asking the Lord to be his obedient instruments” and to pause for a moment of prayer after confession “to thank the Lord for what he has achieved through our poor persons and always invoke the protection of the Holy Spirit and the powerful intercession of the Mother of Mercy on each of the souls that have renewed their personal encounter with Christ through us.”
[Here is the best part.]
“What all of us as well as penitentiaries of papal basilicas have noticed, is that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is going through a crisis, particularly where confessors are facing a crisis. That is, where the sacrament is only offered to “Catholic adults” who consciously ask for it and may even have the priest’s phone number at hand. But this risks reducing the sacrament to something individualistic which has nothing to do with one’s personal encounter with Christ,” the cardinal said. [Some people call their priests as if the priests are their own toy dog!]
The Father who sees his youngest child arriving in the distance is a good example of this. [The parable of the prodigal son.] It is a patient, often painful and sometimes disappointed wait but we can always pray, meditate, read spiritual texts and offer our sacrifice as we wait. If even just one penitent finds reconciliation with God because the priest waited for them faithfully in intense prayer possibly, the time spent waiting will have been well worth it. Even if no one turns up, the majority within the Church, that is the angels and saints, will have been witness to our sacrifice and our willingness.”
“Being faithful to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Major Penitentiary concluded, is one of the most efficient ways to be faithful to Christ and his inescapable mandate: “If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." [The mandate given by Christ to the apostles and not just to any Christians as most liberals think it is.] These words are also to be understood “as the personal responsibility of every priest towards all those whose sins have not been forgiven because of the scarcity of this sacrament and the consequent difficulty in celebrating it.”
I find it disheartening to discover the following things:
1. Some priest in Quiapo where I regularly go to Mass every Friday morning, give the absolution as if they are speaking like a machine! My God! It was lightning fast how he said the absolution! And it is not just once I experienced that!
2. Some shrines (diocesan, archdiocesan, national) usually have empty confessionals!
3. Confessions done in retreat houses are usually this:
a. write your sins in a piece of paper and then we burn it, and then the priest gives general absolution
b. pray and tell God your sins, and then the priest gives the absolution.
Dear priest, you were ordained for the purpose of forgiving sins!
Spend more time in the confessional rather than in your TV shows, di ba?