Friday, March 07, 2008

Parish Penance Service, Mon. night, 7:30

Stations of the Cross, tonight, 7 pm, followed by Eucharistic Adoration. All who wish to remember Christ’s passion and then to adore Him in the Eucharist are invited!
This Monday night, (3/10), we will have our Parish Penance Service, Monday (3/10), 7:30 pm, SAA Church. We’ll have several priests here to offer confessions. I recently made a post about Confession, saying that it was a tremendous experience of freedom, joy, peace, etc. One anonymous blogger remarked that, “A common theme on this blog is that the sacraments are not about feelings”. Amen, Anon, and thank you! The “short-term gains” about which I wrote go deeper than mere emotions.

Nevertheless, I didn’t mean to imply that having those experiences are the primary reasons for going to Confession. They aren’t. The primary reason is for the Grace. The secondary reason is for the forgiveness of our sins. If we experience on some level how awesome the “eternal reward” (Arch. Wuerl) received in Confession is, great! If not, we still go for the Grace and forgiveness of sins. Those are the focal points. That is what will get us to Heaven. But, I truly believe that Heaven starts on Earth, and that every regular penitent will have some kind of experience of Heaven (freedom, peace, joy, etc.) through Confession before they die.

Here are some other views from the recent post about Confession:

Mindy: Furthermore, confession isn't about how we feel (okay- maybe the peace/joy are momentary bonuses) but the reward you get from confession is eternal, and that's much cooler.

Anon: Confession has no emotional or psychological effect on me either. Wait -- before you jump, let me say that I know that that is not what Confession is about. A common theme on this blog is that the sacraments are not about feelings. So I cringe when I hear people say that going to Confession leaves them "feeling" free, happy, like a weight was lifted off their shoulders. Father Greg talks of "short term gains" such as freedom, peace, and joy. It may do that for some people, but for many and I think most, receiving the sacraments brings no emotional, psychological, or even spiritual benefit. They receive them out of belief that it is required by the Church and somehow brings God's grace even though it is imperceptible to them. If it brought short-term freedom, peace, and joy to everyone, there would always be a line…

Daisy: I love going to confession, too.

Anon: I’m taking this Lenten mini-course (for those who think they can’t commit to how ever many months Bible Study is offered here, or at any parish, they are really great short term study classes during Advent & Lent). After the first discussion, The Light is On for You was brought up, and one brave soul said what so many have thought, including myself in other times, ‘I can confess directly to God; He knows my sins already. Confession was invented by men.’

There was a time when it seemed to me that confession to be a bit voyeuristic, and I didn’t go except during Advent and Lent (and usually on the very last day possible). When this man said this, I was thinking- if he doesn’t think he needs confession, does he think he doesn’t need the other sacraments either? I mean, if you go that route, why be baptized? You can proclaim Christ as your savior at any time? Why even go to church? You can worship God at home. It’s a slippery slope when we claim not to need/want this or that from God. Of course, I kept my mouth shut- I’m new to the group and didn’t want to say anything. But someone else offered their own insight about the sacrament being designed by Jesus himself- not by mere men. Someone else read from the Gospel of John relating the importance of the forgiveness of sins. Whenever confession is brought up- people definitely tend to perk up!


At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just trying to say that for some it is an empty experience. Isn't the back-and-forth on this blog enriched somewhat by reports of diverse experiences?

At 1:54 PM, Blogger fran said...

"When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner."
[Cathecism of the Catholic Church 1465]

For those who find the Sacrament of Penance to be an empty experience, I pose this:

If the Good Sheperd, the Good Samaritan, the Father himself was visible, next to the priest in the confessional, would the experience still be an empty one for you?

At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon of 12:45-
Your comment sounds as if you think you were admonished, but I read this differently. I think your point isn't being debated- maybe some "feel" it an empty experience, but- correct me if I'm wrong- the stress of this post is about the short term gains being of little consequence. So, if some do find it an "empty experience" it doesn't lessen the sacrament. They are forgiven for their sins regardless of their experience in the process- and isn’t that the point?

Btw- I think the sharing of diverse experiences is great too. It's helpful to know that some look at things as I do, but equally as helpful to know others see things completely differently. I'm often inspired by the differing points of view.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger fran said...

In the back of the Breaking Bread hymnal/missal, found in church, is a prayer to be said before Confession. The words, "prepare to celebrate this sacrament," appear in the text. This caught my eye, because while it is clear that other sacraments are celebrated, and are often followed by additional celebrating, it has never crossed my mind that the Sacrament of Penance is one that is celebrated. How can admitting one's faults, mistakes, and guilt to an all-loving God, be something to celebrate?

Well, most celebrations have three common components - preparation, food/beverages and gifts. So, too does the Sacrament of Penance. In preparing for this sacrament, one might spend time in prayer, or quiet reflection, examining one's conscience before the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps. Once the sins are confessed, and absolution received, there is spiritual nourishment, spiritual refreshment of the soul, so to speak. And finally, there is the receiving of gifts, in the form of God's abundant mercy, grace and love. (No returns, as one size fits all!)

There is one thing, however, that the ordinary celebration does not have in common with the extraordinary celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. This is the best part. After most celebrations, the guests go home and there is a lot of tidying up to do. After this "sacramental celebration," the guest, Jesus, remains and the clean-up is complete! The soul is sparkling, without a fingerprint, a spill or a stain on it!

Maybe if we look at the Sacrament of Penance in this context, it will no longer be an empty experience, but an experience worth celebrating.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the Sacraments, for me, Penance is the most intimate. The others are communal in nature, and although they are personal and intimate elements of them, Penance is the one in which we are alone with our Father.

Think about it-
Baptism is a community event.
The Eucharist, although a union between Christ and an individual, is also a sign of community among church members.
Marriage is a Sacrament in the presence of families and the church.

Penance is a Sacrament that we attend alone when we are in a state of sin. To go on Fran’s theme, we’re like the Prodigal Son returning to receive a big banquet (and- yeah, no mess afterwards)…and there’s no resentful brother. We’re alone- just us and our Father- sparkling clean!

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Maryann said...

I once read about a priest that was talking with a group of young children about the sacrament of confession. He asked the kids what confession was about and the majority of them said it was a time to tell God all the things they did wrong. The priest did not say a word, but the article said he “lit up” when a young girl said, “Confession is about what Jesus can do for us!”

Although it is a very self centered approach, when I think about myself and young children, I have to admit that we are usually a very self centered group. With time, I have realized that confession is not all about what God can do for me; I am giving back by examining my conscience, admitting my faults and by vowing not to purposely make the same mistake again. When I approach confession thinking about what God can do for me, I find the process less intimidating and more rewarding. I pray daily that I will learn to live by less selfish standards and place Him first in my thoughts and actions. I have a long way to go.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger fran said...

How true that the Sacrament of Penance is the most intimate of all the sacraments. I think it is this intimacy, which makes the sacrament both attractive and yet mildly anxiety producing at the same time.

I am not in the camp of those who say they love to go to confession, but I do find myself drawn to it and always come away with a new found sense of peace and calm. After all, how can an encounter with Christ himself, bring about anything else?

At 6:27 PM, Blogger fran said...

Correction - I misquoted the phrase in the "Prayer Before Confession." The correct words are, "Help me to celebrate this sacrament of mercy..."


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