No More School Confessions
Is Msgr. Jim too busy for children's confessions, but not for time hobnobbing with his pal Marissa?
A concerned OLL parishioner has written in an email that First Friday confessions for Our Lady of Lourdes school children have apparently been discontinued since the new school year began two months ago:
"I was talking to some of the women and moms from OLL school and the new school policy is quite interesting. Apparently since school began there has been no confession on the Thursday before first Friday Mass. They still (at this point) have Mass but have not had ANY priests come in to hear the children's confession."
For many years it was customary for the parish priests to come to the school every First Friday to hear confessions at different stations set up in the school auditorium. All the Catholic students in second through eighth grade would take turns class by class to go to confession. The whole school would then file across the parking lot to attend First Friday Mass which was always offered by Fr. Mason.
A large part of the radical Lisante Plan mentioned in the last post involves the gradual purging of confessions from the parish schedule. First Friday Confessions at the school are no longer available, and when the new Mass schedule takes effect, confessions will no longer be heard on Saturday nights or after the 8 AM Mass on weekdays.
At the end of this month, confession in the parish will be reduced to one hour/week on Saturday afternoons, despite Bishop Murphy's specific request in his Pastoral Letter on Penance and Reconciliation last February which encouraged the frequent reception of confession.
Bishop Murphy notes in his letter that, "Pius XII confessed daily. Most priests I know confess at least once a month. There is nothing wrong in weekly confession for confession even of venial sins will bring you the grace of the sacrament, a grace that will bind you ever more deeply into the bond of God's love."
The bishop thanks his priests for "the practice of having confessions available once a week usually for an hour before the first Vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon," but he makes this particular appeal to every pastor in the diocese: "By this letter I am asking every pastor, without exception, to establish at least one additional hour at a different time during the week when there will be a priest in the confessional to hear confessions."
The bishop acknowledges this additional hour "may take some adjustment in a priest's busy schedule" but he admonishes that he and his priests "all should be willing to "re-prioritize" our time even if it means we cannot be present at some other parish activity."
In a salutary passage, Bishop Murphy instructs his priests not to be discouraged if noone comes initially when the second hour of confessions is instituted and makes the novel suggestion that priests spend the time praying: "At first there may not be many who come. But be patient. Even if no one comes, it is not a "waste of the priest's time" to be in the confessional. With the Breviary, the rosary or spiritual reading, the priest can take advantage of the time when there are no penitents to pray for the people and be an example of devotion to the sacrament that will in time bring more and more persons to the sacrament."
I'm afraid we'll have to wait a long time for the day when Msgr. Lisante, that perpetually busy man, is found praying in an empty confessional humbly waiting for penitents as per his bishop's instructions.
The Bishop's letter is a beautiful, heartfelt exposition on the Sacrament of Penance and worth everyone's time to read. It's actually quite a scandal that Msgr. Lisante refuses to implement his own bishop's injunctions in this matter, and takes zero interest in the spiritual formation of the schoolchildren in his care.
In contrast with Msgr. Lisante's obvious disinterest for this sacrament, a recent visit to the newly built chapel at St. Anthony's High School comes to mind. Installed in the rear of the striking Romanesque structure are two large wooden confessionals with exquisitely carved details and flourishes. These beautiful antique confessionals were rescued from a church that was being demolished and are the pride and joy of the Franciscan Brothers who see to it that confession is always readily available for their students.
Perhaps our self-assured new pastor could take a lesson from the Brothers and begin to rediscover the meaning and purpose of this wonderful action of grace, the sacrament of confession, as Bishop Murphy describes it in one passage in his letter: "the sacrament that shows us God's love as mercy, the sacrament that gives us back a restored humanity, that sacrament that makes us one with God and one with all our brothers and sisters in this Body of Christ which is our true home and the one place we always can find God's life and love!"
Tue Nov 04, 08:25:00 AM 2008