Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Open to correction like anyone else

“In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on course”. – St. Boniface (saint of the day)
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Does every priest offer proper correction in the confessional? Unfortunately, no. But, because priests act in the person of Christ in the Sacrament of Confession, the chances are very good that it is Christ who is offering the correction. And, if it’s Christ offering correction, then it’s what the person needs to hear, and will lead to his peace.

42 Comments:

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Fr. Greg you are great !So do my kids!

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FG's homily today is timely- as it was about living values. Do we live what we, as Catholics believe, or do we walk out of church and do things that don't support those values? I think we are fortunate to have priests who care about the fact that we hold our values. No one has "challenged" me as to whether I live those values in a great while- for, from the outside, it probably would look like I do. After the homily, reading this post and then having a hostile exchange with someone today- it's clear to me that I do not (live my values) very well.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never e-mailed you, never said who it was or that it happened recently.

 
At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- some things really coincidental. FG- maybe you'll have another confessor come forward- you must be on a streak! JK- trying to make things light.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I met a priest in Lourdes last year, and I was challenged (though not in Confession!) Three of us shared a wonderful time over a picnic lunch outside, talking about all sorts of things. It was a wonderful experience of friendship. But in the midst of it, I was left in no doubt that this priest thinks I am very wrong not to be going to Mass etc, and that I need to get myself back. I know if I met him again, he would give me the same tough message again, but in the most compassionate and personal way. And I am glad he would do that. It tells me that his faith is real and means a lot to him. He is only trying to correct me out of the utmost love.

 
At 3:55 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

It's a funny thing- this blog. FG says (and does) the same things as many other priests say everyday, but some never get or take the opportunity to "challenge" those priests. I think it is generous (and brave) to subject his thoughts and words to all us in a way that we feel like we can answer back in a comfortable and even private way. Thanks, FG

 
At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I never thought for a moment that this conversation had anything to with FG or FM at all. I, myself, condoned shopping for a priest with whom you feel comfortable. This should be an encouraged activity. Why? I believe that confession is such an intimate and personal event that could bring either great healing or great hurt. And, yes, I've had two extremely hurtful experiences that could have broken my spirit. Thankfully, my husband helped me to remain strong. I can probably talk about one but the other is still too hurtful.

I taught CCD in another parish in another state. I taught the special sacraments class. This meant that the children were a variety of ages who for one reason or another did not make their first reconciliation. I worked extremely hard at teaching the course and put many long hours into thinking of activities that would sincerely help the children think deeply about their sins and their personal relationship with God. We worked on this every week and they were proud of their accomplishments. The day finally came for their first reconciliation and they were ready to feel God's grace and forgiveness.

On this day, my wonderful students lined up at the confessional whilst I prayed in a middle pew. After the first child went into the confessional, I waited with bated breath for her to come out with a smile. Instead, the priest walked out of the confessional and announced in front of everyone (other teachers, children, and parents), WHO IS THIS CHILD'S TEACHER? I stood and walked over to him. He proceeded to berate me because the child did not remember to begin her confession with, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned." He continued his diatribe in front of everyone in the church. I left sobbing. It was my birthday. I never returned to that church.

A few months later, I read in the front page of the local paper that he was arrested for embezzling money from the church among other terrible things.

I say shop until you find a good and holy man to help you with your relationship with God and thank God when you find that priest.

P.S. I also think the priests at SAA are second to none!

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger fran said...

The other hot topic, besides confession, on the blog, seems to be forgiveness. We share our thoughts about how difficult it is to forgive one another, how we struggle to forgive ourselves, and our anxieties when seeking forgiveness.

The thing that struck me after reading Fr. Greg's post, is not that he acknowledges that he may be the possible referenced confessor, but that he says he is sorry and asks forgiveness without knowing 100% if he is the one in question! In addition he does so in an honest, extremely open way, in a public setting!! Not what you would expect from your parish priest, and nothing I have ever witnessed before.

There is a powerful lesson to be learned here. One that I hope can draw from and put into practice in my own life. Thank you, Fr. Greg for your example. You have raised the bar a little higher for all of us.

A note to Kiwi:
I hope you are still on your "return to the Church journey." You have so much to offer. Your church doesn't know what it is missing.

 
At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think forgivness is a logical leap of discussion here-

So, let's say you've offered an apology for a poor (or inappropraite) choice of action and/or words, but it falls on, atleast what seems to be, deaf ears. I'm at a bit of a loss in dealing with something that is really distracting to me right now. I'm only more than aware that I cannot "take back" anything I've done or said, and I shouldn't expect someone to respond to my apology in the way I want- for the apology really wasn't meant for ME. Maybe what I asking for is more than forgiveness- that things be "normal" again. I don't know- but I'm tired of bull**** in my life- especially when I create it! Don't really know how to move on and just let it be- definately NOT my forte.

So- the question- what to do when you ask for forgiveness and it's not given?

 
At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Fr. Greg has decided who his anonymous commenter is.

I wonder 2 things, is he right? And if not, what his e-mailer/confessee thinks of all this?

Not that I am discounting his contrition for possibly upsetting someone or that he is "open to correction like anyone else". But I do wonder though, what if he is wrong on who it is who made the confession comments Saturday? Is he ready and willing to accept the fallout that may happen if his confessee/e-mailer is upset with this quite public, though anonymous, discussion of what seems to be a privite topic.

Don't shoot the messanger. BTW Fr. Greg, nice blog. Very interesting conversations.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

All in all- FG apologized to someone and I'm sure all will be fine. There shouldn't be any "fall-out" from anyone. Also- the "topic" of their conversation wasn't touched, only that he "challenged" the confessor. So- I don't see any kind of breach here. Just my opinion.

 
At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So- the question- what to do when you ask for forgiveness and it's not given?

The other person has a choice and you cannot control his or her decision to forgive or not. What you CAN control is yourself and your own actions in the future. I think it begins with forgiving yourself and doing better next time. I think it's about reaching out to others in need and not focusing on your own worries. Make it better by being a better person. And then the bull---- will slip away.

 
At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Everyone: please give Fr. Greg a break about all this. One thing that I think we all have to keep in mind is that our priests are human too for good or ill and they too can sometimes add 2+2 and come up with 14 like the rest of us.

And Mindy is right when she said that the topic was not discussed so other then hurt feelings there won't, or shouldn't, be fallout.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger fran said...

"So - the question - what to do when you ask for forgiveness and it is not given?"

I would start by asking myself these questions:

Have I spoken candidly about my inappropriate acts, words, etc., with this person?

Have I allowed the other person to speak openly about how he/she feels about my actions?

Have I offered a sincere apology? -heartfelt?

If you have, and the other person just doesn't, can't or won't offer forgiveness, then you have done what you need to do. You cannot demand an apology, as something forced is about as good as nothing at all.

The next, final and most important thing to do, would be to ask forgiveness from God in Confession. It would be nice to receive the type of forgiveness you desire from your friend, but if you have God's forgiveness, you really don't need it from anyone else.

Also, pray for your friend, he may just surprise you one day!

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

All bloggers: please steer clear of gossip, especially with regards to what I wrote on Tuesday. The matter is between me and the person. Any comments that I feel are inappropriate will be deleted.

To 1st Anon from Saturday: please email me so that I know who you are. If you are not the person to whom I was referring on Tuesday's post, then I need to apologize to him / her. Thank you.

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr. I hope you will allow this to stay.

I want to apologize to Fr. Greg as well as anyone else my lapse of rationality and childish behavior afflicted. I was the Anonymous commenter from Saturday. Well, one of them. My commentary ended after a comment at 1:50pm and Again the next day where I commented that I hadn't e-mailed Fr. Greg. Those were the sum total of my comments on the matter.

I created a right mess of things for Fr. Greg and others it appears, because I was behaving childishly over something that happened when I was home a few weeks ago. Neither of the priests at St. Andrews was the priest in question. I should have cleared that up Saturday instead of letting things spiral out of control but I was being a right snot about things.

Again my apologies.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Thanks, Anon, for the email you sent me, and for clarifying some of the confusion.

I still need to know who the following Anons from Saturday were: 6:57 pm and 7:32 pm. This is significant because these are the Anons who made me and others easily think that they had had a bad experience in Confession with Fr Mike or me (6:57). Also, they made it seem that they couldn't talk to one of us because of our defensiveness or testiness (7:32).

Please email me so that I know who you are. If you aren't the person to whom I referred in my post from yesterday, then I need to apologize to him / her.

Thank you!

 
At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i said it anonymously for a reason and I choose to remain that way. it is my prerogative. i have no idea who you were talking about in your post yesterday but it wasn't me.

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:27 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Once upon a time, I dated this guy who was a counselor for a life coaching seminar group. Believe me- THAT was an experience, for, then as now, I'm not very coachable. However, one of the most valuable lessons I learned from sitting-in on various seminars is the fact than none of us can be 100% of what someone else needs us to be. Since we aren't perfect, how can we be perfectly all for someone else? It was the lesson that allowed me to forgive my father for his abandonment and my mother for being a work-a-holic who gave most of her time to my sister who had special needs, and finally forgive those who didn't give me ALL of what I needed. It's also been an invaluable concept to me as a mother (wife- I'm still working on). I am grateful for the commentary of the past few days, for a time when I really needed to remember this, it came to me. Anyway- I bring this up, because, maybe some could make the arguement that a priest, acting a a person in Christ, could come close- but based (not only) on the comments from the last few days- maybe not 100%, for they are human (and therefore not perfect). Maybe that is ultimately a gift we are given- not being "perfect". Maybe that is a charactoristic that was meant to actually draw us closer- for we ALL have it in common. If we think about it, we can use that commonality to bond with rather than polarize each other.

Have a great summer all- after the weekend I'm off and probably won't make it back here often. Be safe!

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

I hope you know that no matter what is going on, there is nothing you can't talk to FG about.

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger fran said...

Following a conversation, in which I made the comment that I wanted everything to be perfect, my friend replied:

"The only thing that was perfect died on the Cross."

 
At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat said...
Anon;

I hope you know that no matter what is going on, there is nothing you can't talk to FG about.


I'm scared.

 
At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Of what? FG? I've never been afraid of him and given my past with priests and men... thats a heck of a leap.

 
At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding on from last post.

To clear matters up I am not the anons everyone is talking about. You can tell if you know who is posting what. Some groups can tell where the postings are coming from.

 
At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I am NOT afraid of FG he is really a cool guy. I am afraid of things that are gotten way out of control and I have no idea why. I am sitting here going "What is going on and why?"

 
At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Sorry, I made some assumptions... whoops! Please forgive me for assuming you were the pervious anon.

 
At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Should read previous not pervious... need coffee...

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm completely confused. Anon should address self as "anon- Sat 7:32", for many anons have entered into this conversation. If you're NOT scared and someone else is- someone who doesn't think one of our priests "testy", then maybe they are "scared" to speak to FG or FM for another reason. Maybe THAT issue should be addressed, for if that anon doesn't know it from the posts as of late, both of our priests are really caring and compassionate people with a firm committment to their faiths and all of ours. Whatever your fear is bourne of, they will help you. I don't say that lightly, for trust is huge with me and NOT easily given, and I trust both of them.

 
At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. It is too bad that one or two anonymous posters are acting immature by inciting confusion. Blogs are meant to inspire conversation and thought...not gossip.

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
Mother Teresa

 
At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the quote and woll post it in plain view, Thanks!

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger fran said...

May I add another? Also, from Mother Teresa -

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

 
At 2:38 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Fran-
I need a bigger forehead- for this is another that should go backwards there. Although I've no delusions that I myself need to be (or ever could be) perfect, I do get caught up in wanting "things" I do to be, well- I say "just so", but perfect is probably a more honest statement of my goals. I make sure even the smallest, probably insignificant, detail is covered, and when others tell me enough is enough, I'm like- whaaat? Are you kidding? I can make this bigger and that better, and oooh- if I moved this over there, then I could..... But all I really do is make myself crazy! When I think about it- it's really rather stupid.

 
At 2:39 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Ooops- I was referencing Fran's following post-

"The only thing that was perfect died on the Cross."

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger fran said...

Hey Mindy,
We have a lot in common! As I have aged, rather, matured, I have learned to let a lot of things slide, in an effort to "let go" of pursuing perfection.

Now, had you seen me a few weekends ago, when I was preparing for my daughter's grad party, and the cake was decorated incorrectly, and the catering order was incorrect and the balloons for the tables got so twisted that my daughter and her first guest had to untangle and place them on the tables!!(LOL)....well, let's just say I had a momentary lapse in handling the situation in a mature manner. The good news is, it was a short lived reaction. One day, I hope to not even react. Something on which I work, everyday.

Have a great summer and I wish you safe travels!

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cousin told me this story about when, a few years back, her church was doing some reconstruction and confessions were held in the gym. Since there were no traditional confessionals in the gym, there were two options- face to face or obscured by a stand-up screen. She had never been to face-to-face confession, so she chose the screen. The first few times she went, she made sure to get there 15 minutes late, for even though the priest would know her from her voice, she didn’t want him to actually see her (to her that somehow made it anonomous). One time when she went, she got there the usual 15 minutes after the correct start time, but so did Father. My cousin was really embarrassed. She waited for him to go sit behind the screen and went to kneel down on the other side. She was so nervous by the fact that he saw her, she sort of stumbled and knocked the screen completely over, actually hitting her priest with it in the process. The priest took it in stride, and said, “It’s so nice to see you too!” She now goes face-to-face.

 
At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

The first time I went to confession at SAA's at the regularly scheduled time vs. having snagged FG previously for my big leap back (boy that was a long one) I sat there for a good 5 minutes or so figuring out what the little light above the door was for. Then it dawned on me it was the Sacrament version of "red light green light". I felt a little dumb for a while after that...

 
At 9:07 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

The actual confessional makes me nervous. The idea of walking into some little, enclosed space that was created solely for the confession of sins has been enough to make my heart rate increase. Then, in the confessional face-to-face? I've never done that- you'd have to be sitting really close to each other. I'd worry our knees would knock! I don't think I could get past the close proximately to even begin to think about what I'd be there to say. I get hung up on stupid stuff, and I'm glad for the screen.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Mindy;

I will let everyone crack up at this, I went behind the screen once with Fr. Mike just to see what the big deal was... The only diffrence really between the sides is that in the face to face side there is a chair and the top half (where the screen would be) is open. Another reason I go face to face, is the chair several years ago I broke my kneecap and kneeling full on like that for any length of time makes it almost impossible to move around afterwords.

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

Thanks for describing- I'd never really thought to ask anyone. I can be a little weird about being in close contact with someone (especially in a confined space), and throwing "sins" in the bucket along with my usual apprehensions- well, the word avoidance would be best applicable.

 
At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Americans we are pretty goal oriented people and I think have a hard time admitting we "missed the mark" (as an aside..this is actually one of the translations of the word "sin.") I think that is the reason why many people leave the Church. We feel like failures when we cannot measure up to whate we see as impossible standards. So our solution is to change the standards -- change the requirements for being "perfect." So instead of being chaste so that we can truly love the other we decide that being pleasant while being unchaste is ok. Or being nice while we are unjust. Or being nice to some people in some circles of our life is ok.

A lot of confession anxiety can go away if we remember that what we are really "confessing" is that Jesus is who he said he was. He WILL forgive our sins. All we have to do is get to the absolution and realize that we can be perfected even though we are not now perfect. We can do this if an only if we let Jesus do it to us. He will give us the heart to love God and others with His Love and thus avoid sinning or missing the mark by hurting others and ourselves instead of loving God enought to do his will.

One of the psalms begs the Lord to teach us to delight in his commands. If we delight in his commands then we have learned to delight in Love -- true deep and divine love -- love that comes Jesus himself. When we live in that love we see the demand to be prefect not as a failure but as an opportunity - -an opportunity to grow in love and love as Jesus loved.

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In recent years, I seems it's become more usual for parishioners to leave the church because they don't like the behavior of their pastor, or they felt more welcomed at another parish or, even find more of a sense of community outside the Catholic Church. That is really a shame, for most of us learn through our parish to teach as Jesus did. In that, we build our community of faith around that message and by reaching out to those in need. If we parish hop or avoid certain sacraments or people, how can any foundation really be built? I think it’s especially important to reach out to those who have been absent in their faith (our priests do this ALL the time- even with those of us who may not see that our actions are not reflecting our faith), for you never know what kind gesture just might be the one to bring them home again. That is one of the most important way we live Jesus’ message.

 

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