Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"We will be waiting for them in the confessionals"

Confessions available, SAA Church:
1) Tonight, 7-8:30 pm (Mass at 6:30 pm). “The Light is On For You”
2) Saturdays, 4-5 pm
3) 24/7 – Fr Greg
Thanks to a parishioner who sent me this insightful and intriguing story about Confession which comes from a Catholic speaker and apologist:

“Some years ago I was invited to dinner at the rectory of the most populous parish in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. When I knocked on the door, the housekeeper admitted me. It was evident at once that no one else was there. Had I shown up on the wrong night? Oh, no, said the housekeeper. All four priests werestill in the church, hearing confessions. On a Thursday night? When the priests finally returned to the rectory, the pastor apologized for keeping me waiting. They had had fifty more penitents than usual for a Thursday. I remarked that Thursday evening seemed an odd time to have confessions.

'Oh, we have confessions every evening,' said the pastor—hundreds and hundreds of confessions each week. I wondered how that could be possible. The pastor chuckled. He said that neighboring pastors asked the same thing--and they proffered answers. Many of them say, 'Well, you're just getting our penitents because you have such convenient times for reconciliation,' but that's not so, you know. We can tell that these are our own people.'

But why, I asked, were the four priests in this parish kept busy with confessions each evening, not to mention on Saturday afternoons, when in neighboring parishes only a handful of people showed up at the once-a-week slot for confessions?

'Easy,' said the pastor. 'It's so easy that other priests don't believe how we do it.'

Okay, I said. What's the secret?'From the pulpit we tell our people that they are sinners, that they know they are sinners, and that they need to go to confession. We tell them that God loves them and wants to forgive them. We tell them that we will be waiting for them in the confessionals each night and on Saturday afternoon. We tell them this often and always gently, and so they come to confession. Lots of them.'

That's it? I asked. No fire and brimstone? No bribes, spiritual or otherwise? No threats?

'Not necessary,' said the pastor. 'If you tell people the truth that they already know in their hearts--that they are sinners and need forgiveness--they will respond to that.'

And so they did. No matter what changes have occurred since Vatican II, no matter how ill-instructed today's Catholics may be, no matter how put off they may be by scandals or flat homilies, one thing has remained constant: human nature. People today commit the same sorts of sins that people committed fifty or a hundred or a thousand years ago, and those sins affect them as sins always have affected people. At least in this regard, there is nothing new under the sun..."

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