Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday's Gospel + commentary

Congratulations to our extraordinary eighth graders who graduate today!! We are all very proud of you all!

The following is today’s Gospel reading from Mass. Below it is an excerpt of a commentary from Wikipedia; to view the full text, please click on the title of this post.

Gospel - Mk 11:27-33

Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem.
As he was walking in the temple area,
the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders
approached him and said to him,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
Or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question.
Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”

They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–they feared the crowd,
for they all thought John really was a prophet.
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”

Then Jesus said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
The priests, teachers, elders, Pharisees and Herodians are described as coming up to Jesus, and questioning his authority to do the things that he is doing; John makes it clear that they are referring to his actions in scattering the livestock and overturning the tables of the moneychangers, but the synoptics imply that it is in reference to his teaching. The synoptics recount that Jesus tricked them by calling into question their own authority or allegiances.
First he asks his opponents to say whether John the Baptist’s authority to baptize was divine or human. They do not believe John had divine authority, and so wanting to answer that he was just baptizing as a man—but this would run into conflict with the crowd, who believe in John's divine authority. Since the Temple authorities care so much about what the crowd thinks, this leaves them unable to answer truthfully, and so they are forced to claim that they don't know, exposing their divided loyalties and making them look incompetent. Jesus responds that in consequence he won't tell them what his authority is.


At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you do when you end up leaving confession feeling worse then before you went? I don't ever want to go back.

At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's funny that you write that. A while back there was an exchange prompoted by someone who had a bad confession experience. I commented something about there being one priest I know (I called him a name) and I said I'd never go to confession with him. Well, last Saturday, I ended up in his "confessional" (long, pathetic story as to how/why) instead of at SAA. I needed to go to confession and he was before me, and I thought- well, nothing is an accident, and maybe, just maybe this is where I should be....?!! I was correct in my initial impression of him, and it was a horrible experience. What I had done was something for which I had a great deal of guilt, and I left feeling chided. I can honestly say, it was the first time that has ever happened to me. Find another priest- your redemption is worth it.

At 7:51 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

Graduation day- can hardly believe it!! I have had the priviledge of getting to know some of the young people graduation from St. A's today, and it's bittersweet to think of them leaving. I know they are moving on to great adentures with new found freedom and purpose, and I know the values instilled in them by the good hearted men and women of our school faculty will be put to good use. However, I am also a bit sad to know that I won't see so many of them each day. I also realize how many of you will not be a part of the school community anymore, as many graduating are the last in your families to graduate from SAA. We will most definately miss all of your hard work and dedication. I enjoyed working with a number of you over the past few years, and our loss today will definately be your children's new schools' gain. Good luck to all!

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens to someone when they commit suicide? If that person battled mental illness would that make the situation any different?

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the first anon who asked about confession, I have asked questions like that and am told basically that confession is not about feelings. You are there for absolution and you get that whether it feels good or not. If it feels good, that's a bonus. Try to think of the priest as Christ's representative giving absolution and don't worry if the rapport that you have with him during the exchange is bad or his judgmentalism comes through.

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its just that this last time the priest brought up stuff not even related to what I was confessing. And now I am wracked with guilt over this thing that isn't sinful (or I don't think it is anyway) but that I have a hang up on and HE brings it up when I am unloading alot of other stuff that are sins.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 6:40 a.m. wrote that he may never go back to confession, because he/she felt worse than before he went.

I also hear of people not going to a particular church or Mass, because they don't like the wording a particular priest uses, they prefer another priest's homilies, or because a particular priest is not "warm and fuzzy" enough for them! (These do not necessarily pertain to St. A's.)

Perhaps the way a priest speaks in confession is ONLY his particular style. Perhaps he is saying what that person needs to hear and those words result in some discomfort. (I speak from expxerience.) Perhaps his "tone" or wording is exactly the same for everyone who enters his confessional!

Wouldn't it be a bit funny if the priest who wasn't "warm and fuzzy" was the best confessor, or the favorite homilist for another, and vice versa? Are any of us the best at EVERYTHING we do? We all have our strong points. Can't it be the same for our priests?

I think it becomes very dangerous and detrimental to any parish community, when its parishioners start "shopping around," so to speak, for what they think is best; what they want or what they like. I am not saying you can't do it, I am asking "should we?"

What would the future of the church had been, had Peter gotten miffed, felt chided and turned away from Jesus when He said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" after Jesus beckoned him from the fishing boat to walk on the water?

What would our future have been, if in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus decided he didn't like very much what was being asked of him and walked away?

Ultimately, it is not about the priest, the wording, the tone or the feelings. It is so MUCH more! It is about Jesus, it is about the Eucharist, it is about his abundant love and his vast treasury of grace all for us.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just not going back again. Ever. Even if that means never recieving again.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The things that gets me when I hear people talk about bad confession experiences is that- give me a break- the person was IN the confessional! They were there, obviously, because they acknowledge they did wrong and are repentant. Of course, each individual priest will have their own style and strength, and maybe "shopping around" isn't the best thing, but if what you experience is "hostile" and "aggressive" then, thank you- no for me! I can handle being challenged, even in a confrontational way, but when I am being demeaned, that's waaay over the line. Feelings aside, I treat others with dignity and respect and I expect the same from others, even a priest. I know confession isn't about a priest, it is about absolution from sin- I get it, but in a world of many confessors who avail themselves to me, I'll pick the one who doesn't treat me as if I'm "dirty" and "bad". I honestly felt like I should have reminded the priest to hate the sin not the sinner!

On another note, today I attended Mass for the graduates and was treated to the warm and smiling familiar face of our own Fr. Mike. When I went up to receive communion, as he blessed my younger children, I paused for a second to think how blessed we are at St. Andrews. There is no need to "shop around" here!!! We do have the very best the priesthood has to offer, in my opinion at least.

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon who never wants to go back- I'll share my "good" confession thing. I went to confession before Easter Sunday. I created my laundry list of misdeeds which led to a conversation that I didn't intend on having (especially since I barely knew this priest). That conversation led to another and so on. This priest suggested that I was taking on the burden of things that weren't all my "fault"- an entirely new concept for me. Since I was ignorant of some rather important details before making some decisions in my life, I made some possibly poor decisions. In retrospect, there really wasn't a way for me to know all those details then, but I still was beating myself up, feeling ultimately responsible for all. He suggested that I forgive myself- another new and bewildering concept. And I was- well, clueless best comes to mind.

I recently experienced this "episode", for lack of any better word, and was faced with some ugly stuff. After some bad feelings (and bad behavior), I realized that, maybe, this episode happened as a result of someone's ignorance. They were ignorant of the important details that, perhaps, made something look one way when it was far from it. I decided that I could forgive those involved b/c they just weren't aware of what was really going.

In forgiving them, it became clear that I was due the same. If I could forgive someone else for acting in ignorance, then why NOT forgive myself for the same? I was laying in bed last night at about 2 a.m. just staring at the ceiling while thinking about this. It's finally okay to let the past be in the past. I no longer "blame" myself for everything that went so wrong, and am finally cutting myself some slack. Whew- whatta a thing!

My point- if I never went to that confession, I will still be so heavily burdened with stuff that's just unhealthy for me. I don't believe in accidents. I think all things ultimately are perfectly the way they are meant to be. Maybe my experience with the priest who treated me in a way I thought was awful was a springboard for me to reflect on the time when my confession was so openly helpful. Maybe that was the catalyst and the confessional "bonus" that helped me put some of this into perspective. Maybe that "bad" confession will lead you to a better place. Give it some time- you just never know what's going to happen, but rest assure- all things do happen in (I'm quoting a friend) "God's time."

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do have the very best the priesthood has to offer, in my opinion at least.

FG was meant to be included in that too.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous tom said...

"Every member of the Christian faithful is free to confess sins to a legitimately approved confessor of his or her choice, even to one of another rite." Code of Canon Law, n. 991

It's not only a good idea, it's the law.

If you don't like confessing to a certain priest, confess to a different one. It's your right as a Catholic, and no one has the right to stop you.

I strongly disagree with any hint of disapproval over someone choosing their own confessor.

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt validated by your comment. Confession is meant to be healing, and I am pleased that I get to choose the one(s) who best help me heal.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger fran said...

Clearing the air here-

I never said one could not "choose" their own confessor. I "lumped together" all of the things people say they like or don't like about a priest, and merely raised the question "is this the best for a parish community?" If you refer back to the post, I even said "I am not saying you can't do it," when referring to making a personal choice. I was suggesting that we look at the whole picture, the whole priest, as it were.

Certainly if one is being demeaned or made to feel badly, they SHOULD seek the counsel of someone else, and quite frankly it should probably be explored further in another setting, in addition to this blogsite.

Where people see the negative, I seek to find the positive. That's really all I try to do here.

Yes, we are most certainly blessed to have two wonderful parish priests. They are truly heaven sent and this brings me full circle in this blog exchange. When they are re-assigned somewhere down the road, and new, entirely different priests with their own message, distinct personalities, and way of doing things arrive, and they aren't at all like Fr. Mike and Fr. Greg, then what?

At 4:39 PM, Blogger fran said...

For those who do not wish to return to confession or have had bad experiences:
I guarantee, if you speak with Fr. Mike or Fr. Greg, it will be one of the best conversations you will ever have in your life. As another blogger wrote, it may just be the "springboard" for leaving the past behind and embracing the beauty of the future.

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, often actually, when I am confronted with a situation that produces anxiety, I have a need to flee. It can be overhwelming, and when I allow myself to "sit" in the situation, I feel desperately out of control. So, when it is a situation with a priest that produces that anxiety- well, for me, that's a dilema (for I don't want to flee the church). So, I definately do understand the anon's feelings about staying away from the confessional, but giving up the Eucharist is a big deal. I wouldn't give that priest that power over me to give up something as important as that.

I guess it's important to remember that priests are human and, therefore, fallible. They have opportunities to be an instruments of healing and if, instead, they are instruments of anxiety, grief, guilt and shame, maybe it's a good thing to let them know that's what your experiencing. Can't tell you I've had the nerve to tell a priest, "You hurt me, you're not helping me or you're making me feel like there's something bad about me," but I hope some out there would. Priests need to grow with the community to whom they serve, but without some feedback, how is it to happen?

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


not when it was one of them that did it.

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its just that this last time the priest brought up stuff not even related to what I was confessing."

I'm guessing this priest is someone with whom you must have developed a rapport over time. Maybe what you didn't think was sinful was something he saw as sinful, and he was trying to "direct" you a bit. Maybe even this priest was trying to get you to see the situation was as clearly as he thought you should. Granted, I don't know what the topic was or was not, but if this priest brought a subject up to you, then you must have spoken with him before. If he had not been helpful then, you probably wouldn't have gone back.

I hesitate to post this for I'm "blowing" my anonimity with this priest (who I know thinks he knows posts everything anyway) by posting it- but what the heck-

I had been acting in a way that was, well, "ugly" is probably the best word. An arguement with this particular priest ensued and I was actually left standing there as he turned his back to me and walked away. Painful? Yes! Neccessary? Yes! I was on a pretty destructive path, and although I think he probably only felt anger for me at the time, walking away was a good thing for me to experience. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It's been hard to even look at him since, but I do think he ultimately wants what's best for me, and I was behaving "beneath" myself. Maybe "your" priest was offering you an opportunity to stop dead in your tracks too. I don't know- maybe he's just a jerk (sorry, Fran), but maybe he wants what's best for you too. Just a thought.

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

"not when it was one of them that did it."

We do have two priests- try the other, but in the meantime, why not atleast think about expressing your feelings to the priest who, it seems as if you feel, somehow "hurt" you. I'm sure he was probably trying only to help you. If you can't do it face to face, try a letter or leave a voicemail (I've done both with both of our priests here at SAA). If nothing else, you will have expressed what's going on for you.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so easy to do when I have seen him get defensive and testy with people when they say something to him about stuff he says or does and then avoids them, makes them feel like the whole situation is thier fault. I don't want to get into that battle.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Maybe you could think about excusing the "man" in the priest, for he is subject to all the same feelings and defenses as all of us. It must be difficult to be subject to the opinions and comments of so many, but I've confidence that he is learning from each experience and comment, and it will serve him to be an even better priest than he already is. I understand your trepidation- believe me- but being true to yourself is important. You can either worry about feeling "beaten-up" by him or you can actually "beat-up" on yourself for your failure to stand up for yourself. You can't ever get away from yourself.

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

This is off topic from the other posts, but I have a question about the Holy Spirit. When you are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit, what exactly does that mean? I can't remember if it is said that we are sealed BY or sealed WITH the Holy Spirit- which is it? Does it means that He lives within or walks with us? If so, I can't imagine that any of our actions/thoughts would cause Him to leave us once we are "sealed". So, if He is always within/with us, how could we go to hell? Hell isn't a place where the Holy Spirit would dwell, and if He doesn't ever leave us, then how can anything we do after we've been "sealed" send us to hell?

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Kat said...


Hell is a choice, we can chose God or we can chose to reject him even in that final moment between life and death. This goes for anyone, God won't make us chose him. It is kinda inconcievable though that someone who has all along made choices for God in the sacraments would in the end reject God. Basically, forgive my idiocy here, overall going to Hell is a choice that we can make ie to accept or regect God... the rest of your only answer is "I don't know".

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is fine to shop around and feel blessed when you find what you need. I want to feel close to Jesus when I am in His presence and the priests are part of the equation to make that happen. Are they human? Sure. Do they fail me sometimes? Sure. Does that mean I lose my faith? No, but it certainly does mean that I can shop around if a priest's actions, homilies, etc. force me to think more about him than about God when I'm leaving mass, confession, etc.

I've had to shop around a few times in my life...thankfully not too many. When I did, it only brought me closer to God.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

As Tom said, the church says we can "shop around", but also, as Fran said- is it really what's best? In cases like Kay described some time ago, if the actions of a priest are causing so much negativity that it distracts you from your relationship with God- well, yes- go find another priest. However, if one is saying something that causes you a "pang" (of guilt, shame, remorse, regret- whatever) then packing up and moving on would seem to be a distraction in and of itself. For that might be more about giving into your own pride instead of looking toward growth?

In addition, if we make choices based on singular incidents rather than look at the complete sitation, the picture may be really distorted? For then couldn't we potentially be picking and choosing only the lessons in life that might "feed" us in the way we want to be fed, and maybe not the way we NEED to be fed.

It's kind of like feeding my kids- were I to give them what they want all the time (pizza, McD's, ice cram), they'd have some signifiucant health issues. So, from time to time, I sneak in some grated zuchini, eggplant or someother veggie into their food. Most of the time they don't notice, but every once in a while, one will say, "Oooh Gross! I'm NOT gonna eat this stuff!" And then I say, "Okay, then you will not receive dessert." Isn't it really the same thing that our priests do- they can't give us just what we want all the time, for we may suffer serious consequences as a result. Further more, the "reward" offered for living a good life far outweighs any I could offer my kids for eating a brussel sprout! But if we were to "get up from the table" each time we hit a rough patch, we might never know that reward.

I've been guilty of feeding my sense of pride over and over again, and when someone says something that bruises mine- wlaking away with indignation would defiantely be the easist course, but would it be what best handled the situation?

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

The expression "sealed with the Holy Spirit" is analagous to putting a wax seal on a document or scroll. The wax corresponds to our soul, the seal pressed into the wax is the Holy Spirit.

Afterwards, the wax retains the form of the seal, so you can tell whose document it is.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Kelly said...

What an intense discussion about RECONCILIATION. How did Jesus respond to sinners? In a variety of ways.........He often would express immediate total mercy&forgiveness, sometimes He would question a sinner and then forgive, he counseled sinners, and there were times when he He lectured the unrepentent, urged them to change their attitudes, and corrected some pretty harshly.

When a long time friend(a priest) is in town visiting, I have been blessed to receive reconciliation from him. He has been a priest for over 20 years. Some months ago after receiving reconciliation from him, I had the ever so humbling thought......what is it like for faithful priests who live so sacrificially to listen to some sins? Sins concerning pride, greed, or selfishness for instance? Of course I am not saying that priests are not sinners. Simply put a lot of us sinners must sound like spoiled whiners (not winos-well maybe that too-lol). I actually felt ashamed AFTER confession upon having this revelation. I believe seeing Father Greg's ordination really made me think about my long time friend's sacrifices. I mean I remember his girlfriends ( I even dated him briefly back in the day).

Don't so many of us expect our priests to be there whenever we need them? Do we ever contemplate their lives of incredible sacrifice for God's people? Do we pray for them, thank God for them, encourage our priests, love them, show affection & respect?


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