You bust your hump day in and out; you thump the tub for the New Evangelization; your blog gets fewer hits than a bong at a college party; and for what?
|It's only a model.|
I am quite happy to "just show up" for such graced encounters. As far as I know, I bore no responsibility for it except by showing up. Hence the importance of my showing up, the need for some warm, consecrated body to show up when/wherever he's called for--whether at the hospital, at the school, in the (Confessional) box, or at the funeral parlor.
A little of everything happened that day. Two Sunday Masses at the parish; Confessions before the other two; three baptisms; a bereavement service to preside at and preach; and a Mass for a nearby parish's Confirmation retreat. The ontological and emotional roller-coaster! Thank God, I sat in my seat, buckled up, and enjoyed the ride.
Not every Lord's Day is this busy for me. More of them ought to be, I suppose. Amid the quantity of engagements, one person's Confession lit me up like the pale green indicator that announces before every weekend Mass at HGA that "The Father is In."
For decades our parish has had a priest available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before every weekend Mass. In recent years we have distributed a handy-dandy guide for people who'd like some help with the procedure and possible content for Confession. For a while there have been apps for this.
For all the great gadgetry, there's been no dramatic, sustained upsurge in Confessions. A year or so ago, I gave an interview for the local daily. I don't recall if he asked me this, but I imagine that he may have, as in:
"What sort of response do you expect from the recent technological aids to Confession?"
"Like much online content, it may amount to a curiosity that merits passing review and little more. Nothing substitutes for the genuine conversion of heart that prompts a person first to make an unsparing examination of his actions, words, and emotions, and then to lay it all out there to a priest whom Jesus and the Church have authorized (1) to receive that person's testimony about himself and (2) to deliver on behalf of Jesus and the Church the judgment of mercy. That's all the Lord wants to do for us. Great fear and shame need not bind us any longer."
"Let someone with a deep love to give / give that deep love to you / and what magic you'll see."
Let Mr. S limn "that deep love," such as priests and other lovers are wont to give:
Pray for vocations. Pray that young men and women will experience the support of family, social network, and parish in considering the call to the priesthood or consecrated life. Pray that young people will cultivate the chastity and charity that suits married couples for the long haul and for each day. Pray that the Confession lines will get long enough to exasperate priests like me.
The best way to pray for it, however, is to do it! Do the best you can. "Anything worth doing," Chesterton said, "is worth doing badly." The deliberate withholding of a grave sin is another matter, however, so be as thorough as possible. You will not shock me. You will not disappoint me. I don't know who you are. Even if I see you face to face, I don't care who you are.
(Understand me here: in that sacramental moment you are a wounded member of Christ's Mystical Body. Your personal story is always very important, very sacred; but as regards the indiscriminate mercy of Christ, "the Spirit blows where He wills" (Jn 3:8), and I am directing that Cross-Current to you. Your status in the parish, the community, the whatever, is not my focus when I raise the hand in absolution. Rather than serve to squelch your individuality, divine mercy instead subjects that individuality to the Greater Whole known as the Church, who is now better off for your unique repentance. Your searching and fearless disclosure somehow may assist another person to do likewise, in a manner known only to God.)
A priest has asked his flock to go to Confession in lieu of giving him Christmas presents (q.v.). A good idea! Our parishioners are generous. Personally I would not object if they made a good Confession instead of making a dozen cookies, or even mailing a gift card. (But remember, according to a recent post, that Catholicism is about "both/and"!)
In case you are wondering, or comparing someone else's experience, or your own previous, unsavory experience--for which I express regret on the Church's behalf:
You will not get yelled at. In nearly thirty years of going to Confession I have never been yelled at, although I suspect that over the years a priest or ten has been exasperated with me because of my slow letting-go of unworthy attitudes and practices.
OK- I really can't guarantee everyone won't get yelled at, so to be more precise:
I will not yell at you. In over nine years of hearing Confessions I have not yelled at anyone, although I have been exasperated with people because of their slow letting-go of unworthy attitudes and practices. Si animadvertis, habes: You spot it, you got it.
In truth, all this time you have been yelling at yourself, far too loud and long. It has to stop. Why not now--this weekend, or sooner, if you'd like? Give a call. Stop by. Don't be afraid to "inconvenience" us. It will make our day.