Friday, August 11, 2017

Perfect Catholics

Early this century I worked as the Saturday evening cantor at a little parish, with some fun extra duties besides, like giving days of recollection to liturgy volunteers.

An elderly priest, retired then and long since passed away, used routinely to take the Saturday evening Confessions. He would stop in my office where I was usually working on some flyer or another, and as he unrolled his purple stole he would complain about how perfect all the parishioners are, since they never go to Confession. Always at Communion--never in the confessional.

This is not what one sees in parishes with the Extraordinary form, or even with a more solemn and careful celebration of the Ordinary form. In those parishes, people know they are sinners. You can tell they know because the lines for Confession are long every week, and in very devout parishes, every day.

In contrast, those attending more casual celebrations of the Mass might go for years on end without even hearing anything whatsoever about the sacrament of Confession, apart from the announcement twice a year that Advent and Lenten penance services will be held next Tuesday at 7:30.

I once worked at a parish that had 21 scheduled times every week for Confession, and people came. The priests would leave as soon as the line ended, so it was important for people to show up on time. There were 4 times each Friday. One popular time was before one of the Sunday Masses. And the lines were very long on Saturday evenings, and every priest was scheduled.

Once upon a time, when cars had bumpers, there was a bumper sticker that said, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." Wouldn't it be wonderful to see a revitalized use of the sacrament of mercy throughout the Church!
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