The column of two weeks ago was a detailed outline for the proper format of the Sacrament of Confession. At that time I wrote that the following week I would continue our little catechesis on the Sacrament of Penance. Because of St. Patrick and St. Joseph Day which I wrote of last week, this column will continue to focus on the importance of maintaining the formal structure; generally what to bring to the Sacrament, and what to leave out; and understanding the sacred role of the Priest-Confessor and not putting him in a difficult position.
Once the penitent has made the Sign of the Cross and said, "Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been (state the interval of time) since my last confession; and I accuse myself of the following sins," it is important that what is then said is the necessary matter for your confession, and nothing else, no matter how important it may be. Therefore, do not "slide" or "ease" into your confession, but have a formal beginning and ending to your celebration of the Sacrament. Keep the lines clear.
Try to think of this analogy when it comes to the content of your confession: you have begun a "billable" conversation with your attorney, who charges $500/hr. Whether you are talking the business at hand for which you have come to his/her office or chit-chatting about the weather, your children, or any other subject, the clock is running, and every minute is costing you $8.33. Unless you like to throw money away and don’t care about the best outcome for your real estate, business deal, or legal action, it is imperative to stay focused on why you are there, and you don’t want to confuse your attorney who needs to know the cogent information that is given to him/her in confidence, for the benefit of you, the client. This is not a casual conversation situation. Neither is the Sacrament.
Please make every effort to keep yourself to a succinct list of your sins – kind and number (of times) – and not ramble, become engaged in needless conversation or tangential details; telling the sins you have not committed or good works that you are doing; the airing of complaints about various persons, television programs or governments; or the telling of others’ sins and character defects, etc. Also, do not purposefully omit any sins – especially mortal sins – or confess your sins in such a vague, cryptic or convoluted manner that the Confessor is confused as to what is being confessed. We come to Confession to accuse ourselves of our sins as best we know them and to receive forgiveness through the Priest, who is Christ’s sacramental representative.
The offering of non-essential information during Confession, or the bringing up of parish or personal business issues or other important topics of interest to you (and the Priest) that are not absolutely essential to your confession should be clearly kept outside of the formalities of the Sacrament. I now invite you to "get into the Priest’s shoes," so that you can understand the privileged position and the grave responsibility that he holds under the Seal of the Sacrament.
Once a penitent has begun his/her confession, technically everything that is said therein is under the sacred seal, and the Priest incurs the penalty of excommunication (that only the Pope himself can lift) should he reveal the content of a confession, no matter how insignificant it may be. The seriousness of this cannot be overemphasized. Think about being in that position and try to understand the weightiness of it for the Confessor. When penitents come to the Sacrament, it is imperative that, as best as possible, they do not bring up anything that they discuss with the Priest outside of the confessional, whether business or social in nature, so that the Priest does not have to start having scruples about what matter was mentioned to him within the seal and what was spoken about outside of it. While the Priest acts sacramentally in the place of Jesus Christ, he is not somehow protected and/or immune from being human and imperfect. He is more than capable of getting confused about these things, especially when great quantities of non-essential "filler" are interspersed, padding and insulating (and possibly obscuring) the actual sins being confessed.
Moreover, a good number of saints and spiritual writers contend that the more penitents get off the topic of directly and as concisely as possible accusing themselves of their sins, and providing greater quantities of non-essential information – whether on topic or not – the more that they are subconsciously attempting to justify or downplay their commissions and omissions; attempting to not make themselves look so bad. The point is our sins do make us "look bad." We deserve to be punished for them. All of us. If there is qualified contrition or a lack of contrition for the evil we have done and for the good that we have failed to do, we are abusing the Sacrament. If we do not directly humble ourselves and be straight forward and honest, how can we expect to receive God’s mercy? The attitude that should guide our confession should always be: "I have done X, Y, and Z sins. I am ashamed; I am sorry; please forgive me." The Priest is there to offer God’s forgiveness and peace to the humble and contrite of heart. The Lord knows the details that the Priest does not need to hear. When he himself goes to Confession, he gets right down to the business of telling his sins as succinctly as he knows them, expresses his sorrow, and asks for forgiveness…
However, if there is information that you would like to discuss with the Priest that is not essential to your confession, save it for some other time outside the confessional, or if there are no other penitents waiting in line behind you and the Priest says that he has the time, speak about it after having received absolution. The celebration of the Sacrament is then officially over. Then illnesses, your son’s problems, the bake sale, church lighting, or last night’s ball game…whatever, may be discussed without compromising the forum Our blessed Lord has given us for the forgiveness of our sins.
Page 4 March 19, 2017
BREAD AND SOUP SUPPER
On Friday of this week we will have our annual Bread and Soup Supper. This is organized by the Squires, the Knights, and Parish Outreach. It is a time when we as a parish community come together in solidarity with the poor. All are most welcome. We ask that whatever money may have been saved in coming to this super, be given to charity so that others may eat. There will be a basket to contribute to parish outreach and St. Vincent de Paul. We are in process of planning and building a new food pantry that will be located, not in the Church, but in the barn. Your contributions will be used for that noble effort to help the poor and forgotten.
The Supper is in Monsignor Costa hall (the lower hall) at 6.00PM. A wonderful way to round out the evening would be simply to go upstairs and pray the Stations of the Cross at 7.30PM.
Thank you Squire Counselor Peter G. Boyle, Grand Knight James Galante, Outreach coordinators and St. Vincent de Paul officers, Joe and Linda Curro. Thank you Squires, Knights, Outreach and St. Vincent de Paul volunteers.
IT IS FINISHED
Next Sunday, March 26th St. Paul the Apostle will host the internationally known Glenn Mohr Chorale. Some may recall that this wonderful musical chorale which has sung on Broadway, Lincoln Center, and the Vatican, was with us right before Christmas and made a profound impression on us all. Their presentation of next week is entitled It Is Finished and is a musical drama on Our Lord’s Passion and Death as seen through the eyes of his contemporaries: Our Lady, Mary Magdalene, Pilate and his wife, Judas, St. John, the centurion, etc. It is an unforgettable performance. It will be Sunday March 26th at 4.00PM in the Church.
THE MILLERIDGE INN
As everyone knows, Mr Butch Yamali and his wonderful staff at the Milleridge Inn have been faithful and loyal friends to St. Paul the Apostle. We always look forward to having our Annual Autumn Gala there each October. Mr. Yamali invited me to the Inn soon after he had acquired it, to bless every inch of the Inn, the shoppes, the carriage house, and even the yet unfinished Wine Bar. He wanted more than anything for his business to have the blessing of God upon it. Not only did I bless the buildings which have been so beautifully restored, but I blessed so many of the personnel who work there. With what faith did they hold out their phones to show me the pictures of their children and ask me to bless the picture knowing their children would be blessed. Is it not nice to see a restaurant advertising in Newsday that they serve Lenten dinners. I had never seen that before. Also before Mr. Yamali would serve the traditional corned beef on Friday, March 17th, he wanted my assurance that the Bishop had granted a dispensation for that day. I am certain God will bless his endeavors. Thank you, Butch, and your whole staff for everything. (Adam, who is Mr. Yamali’s assistant) was married here at St. Paul (it was the second marriage I had done here back in 2013) and recently his first child (a baby boy) was baptized here.
Please be sure to see the bulletin for the information about our upcoming first ever (and we pray this will be an annual event) Golf Outing. The Golf Outing will be Monday May 1st at the Nassau Club in Glen Cove. I am most grateful to Mr. Don Cavanaugh and his committee who have been working for months on this great project. The Honorees at the Dinner will be Tom and Marlene Fitzsimmons who will be awarded the First Annual Monsignor Mario C. Costa Award for their long, selfless, dedication to St. Paul the Apostle Parish. Our other honorees will be Louise and Jack (posthumously) Shannon. They will be awarded the First Annual Sister Regina Kraft Award for their long, selfless, dedication to the youth of St. Paul the Apostle Parish. Save the date and make this another successful evening. Our Annual Gala of last October raised over $55,000 for our parish. Once again, thank you Paula Maturo and your Committee for all your hard work. (They are already working for October 2017, just as our picnic committee is working for our picnic in 2017). I often thank God for making me the pastor of such a wonderful parish and I often wonder what I would do without so many loyal parishioners.
May God bless you
May Mary keep you
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda