GOD BLESS THOSE PRIESTS WHO DISPENSE THE MERCY OF GOD IN THE CONFESSIONAL; GOD HAVE MERCY ON THOSE PRIESTS WHO SCANDALIZE THE FAITHFUL IN THE CONFESSIONAL !!!

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pope_francis_confession

I was happy to receive an email today from a friend in Segovia, Texas I have not heard from in quite a while and that email combined with a comment I received on the internet from one of the readers of my Abyssum Blog, both on the subject of priests as confessors, struck me as providential.  The comment was on my post yesterday, https://abyssum.org/2016/01/09/wide-open-door-or-narrow-gate-which-is-it-it-cant-be-both/ , in which a priest in Italy remarked on the large decrease in the number of Catholics coming to confession.  The priest wrote, in part:

 

It is evident that a certain message, at least as received from the pope and come down to the faithful, easily lends itself to being misunderstood, mistaken, and therefore of no help in the maturation of a sure and upright conscience in the faithful concerning their sins and the conditions of their remission in the sacrament of reconciliation.

My friend in Segovia urged me to cultivate a devotion to Saint John Eudes who was a great promoter of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  She included the following quote from Saint John Eudes writings:

 

In the Tribunal of Penance you {priests} are the living image of the power and majesty of the Son of God. There you are as it were little gods, vested with the powers of God, doing what belongs by right to Him alone, blotting out sin, communicating the grace of the Holy Ghost to souls. Consequently, in the Sacred Tribunal you should serve the interests of God, thinking only of Him, desiring only to establish His kingdom in the hearts of men.

 

 

 

As a judge representing the Supreme Judge, yours is the power of bestowing or refusing absolution. God communicates to you His power of judge in a more excellent manner than He does to the judges of earthly courts. They judge bodies; you judge souls. They judge temporal affairs; you judge eternal ones. Their power is a passing one; yours reaches beyond to eternity. What you absolve or condemn on earth is absolved or condemned in heaven. Their judgments are recorded on paper; yours are written with the Blood of Christ in the eternal books of divine justice. …

 


 

To be a priest is to be a visible god on earth. All Christians are called gods in Sacred Scripture: “I said you are gods” (St. John x, 34), but priests enjoy this prerogative in a much more eminent degree than the rest of the faithful.

 


 

Priests are gods in power and dignity, since they are clothed with the infinite power of God. If it were not through this divine power, how could they bring God down upon the altar at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? How could they form Him in the hearts of the faithful and give the Holy Ghost to their souls? How could they forgive sin and communicate sanctifying grace?

 


 

God gives His divine power to priests in such an exalted degree that they may effectuate many marvels that He alone accomplishes. He created this world and can create others. To his priests He gave the power to produce Christ in the Blessed Eucharist, which is indeed greater than to create an infinite number of physical worlds.

 

Saint John Eudes
Le bon confesseur [The Good Confessor]
The reader of my Blog who sent me the comment on yesterday’s post I have linked to above, struggles to see the priest with anything like the vision of Saint John Eudes.  Here is her comment:
Good morning, I felt a need to respond to this regarding confession.  I have had a number of bad experiences in the confessional that I feel fear before walking in not knowing what I will encounter.  I have been yelled at, chastised, told priests don’t sin because they pray, had confession refused (because I left an illicit relationship to get back into the church and mentioned I loved this person so much that I did not even feel I was sinning, but because I knew it was not acceptable and wanted to get back into the church, I walked away from it) I had to beg and plead to receive absolution and did not feel peace when I walked out. A priest once walked out of the confessional to see who had confessed and as I turned to look at the creaking door he gave me a Cheshire grin.  In each case, I felt I had been in a very dark place. Several years ago a married visiting priest (clearly a convert) asked a class he was leading if anyone had ever had a bad experience in the confessional and 1/3 of the class raised their hand.  I did not raise my hand and wondered how many like me had not raiseed their hand.  He then stated that if we ever have a bad experience in the confessional to say, I walked in here to meet Jesus and instead I met you and walk out.  I have not been able to be disrespectful, but probably will do this in the future. The sad thing is I have very deep Catholic roots and will never leave the church.  Each time I have a bad experience in the confessional, I say I am glad it was me and not someone with shallow roots that will not come back to the confessional or the church. Peace and Blessings.
Sad to say, her experience is not that rare.  I am confident that many priests have had my experience: on hearing a penitent say that it has been many years since their last confession, I inquire as to why they have stayed away so long.  Some times the answer is that they were so scandalized by the priest hearing their confession that it has taken them all this time to get up the courage to come back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation given by our Lord, Jesus Christ, for healing them of their self-inflicted spiritual wounds.
My advice:  never, ever, let something the priest says or does in the confessional separate you from Jesus Christ !!!
Let us pray for such misguided priests !!!
Report really serious violations of the priests responsibility to hear, counsel and absolve sins; not scandalize, and if the priest is guilty of serious sin, report him to the bishop.  Canon Law considers such sin worthy of canonical censure, even in extreme cases (solicitation) reduction to the lay state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning, I felt a need to respond to this regarding confession.  I have had a number of bad experiences in the confessional that I feel fear before walking in not knowing what I will encounter.  I have been yelled at, chastised, told priests don’t sin because they pray, had confession refused (because I left an illicit relationship to get back into the church and mentioned I loved this person so much that I did not even feel I was sinning, but because I knew it was not acceptable and wanted to get back into the church, I walked away from it) I had to beg and plead to receive absolution and did not feel peace when I walked out. A priest once walked out of the confessional to see who had confessed and as I turned to look at the creaking door he gave me a Cheshire grin.  In each case, I felt I had been in a very dark place. Several years ago a married visiting priest (clearly a convert) asked a class he was leading if anyone had ever had a bad experience in the confessional and 1/3 of the class raised their hand.  I did not raise my hand and wondered how many like me had not raiseed their hand.  He then stated that if we ever have a bad experience in the confessional to say, I walked in here to meet Jesus and instead I met you and walk out.  I have not been able to be disrespectful, but probably will do this in the future. The sad thing is I have very deep Catholic roots and will never leave the church.  Each time I have a bad experience in the confessional, I say I am glad it was me and not someone with shallow roots that will not come back to the confessional or the church. Peace and Blessings!

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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