Breaking the chains

CONFESSIONOn a rather regular basis, I am asked via email about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and forgiveness of sins. The questions that I am thinking of are mostly from folks who are firmly entrenched in their Christian faith in the Protestant or Reformed tradition. But increasingly these days, inquiries also come from Catholics. Sometimes they are not really questions at all. They are invitations for me to debate them as they wish to free me from the errors of my Catholic beliefs or free the Catholic from the need to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The question is always some variation of “how can priests forgive sins” when – and here are the variations in their logic – (a) there is no such thing as priest, there is only Jesus as High Priest, (b) only God can forgive sins, (c) people only have one mediator, jesus Christ, and therefore one need only ask Jesus for forgiveness, (d) Scripture never talks about confessing sins to a priest, ….and I think that covers the common debate topics. Continue reading

When the confessional is unavailable…

Here in Tampa, our city and county program is called “Safer at Home.” Kudos to the one(s) who came up with the name. That gave me an inspired thought. I think we should announce a “Forgiven at Home” ministry for Catholics and Catholic families.  To be fair, almost every diocese has published the guidelines from the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, confirmed by the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Continue reading

Timeless Advice

CONFESSIONOne of the all-time best sellers in the spiritual life is St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life.” Here are some of tips the Saint offers to help make a good confession:

The saint recommends regular and frequent confession. He encourages confession, “although your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults.” Continue reading

Telling our stories

TheConfessionsSt. Augustine of Hippo begins his great work The Confessions with a question: “How shall I call upon my God and my Lord, when by the very act of calling upon him I would be calling himself into myself? Is there any place within me into which my God might come? How can God who made the heaven and earth come into me? Is there any room in me for you, Lord, my God?” (I:2) Continue reading

Who do you say that I am ….

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

English: Jesus Christ – detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

18 Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” 21 He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.  22 He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  23 Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:18-24) Continue reading

Rejoicing with the Angels in Heaven

This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, so called because of the opening words to the antiphon for the Mass: Laetare Jerusalem….Rejoice, O Jerusalem…

All of our readings reflect and point to the celebration theme of joy here at the midpoint of our Lenten journey. When the Israelites reach the promised land the Lord announced that their guilt had been lifted, and so the people celebrate. They had become new people in a new land – just as St. Paul reminds us in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” But the gospel is the real celebration in the wonderful telling of the parable of the Prodigal Son. There are a myriad of things that could be said about this parable, but let me suggest one for your consideration this Sunday. Continue reading