Tuesday, 15 November 2016

CONFESSION

CONFESSION





VERY FEW CATHOLICS go to Confession these days and many of those who do go simply do not understand what Confession is meant to be.

CONFESSION TO A PRIEST is NOT NECESSARY to having your sins forgiven by God.

As soon as you tell God that you are truly sorry for your sins and indeed not to recommit them then you are IMMEDIATELY FORGIVEN by God.

However I do believe that FORMAL CONFESSION can be a very good thing and that people should reconsider its value without dismissing it completely.

When I was a priest in Wales our church was beside the house and clinic of a very highly regarded psychiatrist.

One Saturday afternoon after Confessions I was sitting outside in a garden seat reading my breviary while the psychiatrist was on the other side of the hedge cutting his grass.

He leaned over the hedge to say hello and said to me:

"PAT, I WAS JUST SAYING TO MY WIFE THAT YOU DO FOR PEOPLE ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON FOR NOTHING WHAT I CHARGE PEOPLE £50 FOR ON A MONDAY MORNING".

And he was quite right. "CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL."

"Hearing Confessions" has always been one of the most meaningful things that I have done in my 40 years of priesthood.

To have someone come into you, carrying a guilt or a burden, and to listen to them with love and understanding and send them away guilt free and burden free, is one of the most beautiful things a priest can do for a fellow Christian. 

I have had some wonderful experiences in Confession - where Confession has lasted between 30 minutes and 3 hours - during which wonderful spiritual, mental and emotional healing can happen. 

I am happy to hear Confession in a Confession Box. But some of the most meaningful celebrations of Confession (The Sacrament of Reconciliation) has happened when both I an the penitent have been present with each other in a room or an Open Confessional.

Eyes can meet eyes. Compassionate and understanding glances and gestures can be seen. Tears can be shed. 

And ideally Confession should happen in the context of a discussion of your whole life, where you are at and counselling and advice are given.

Traditional Confessional Boxes are very limited although they do provide for a very private exchange.




But Confession is supposed to be an ENCOUNTER or a CONVERSATION between you and God through the service of the priest.

Imagine having a normal encounter or conversation in a wardrobe !




Mind you I think you do have to be very careful to choose the priest confessor very carefully. People have been very hurt in the past by priests in Confession being nasty, grumpy, angry and extremely judgemental.

I cannot remember which saint said that a priest should be:

"A LION IN THE PULPIT AND A LAMB IN THE CONFESSIONAL".

 In my 40 years as a priest and a bishop I have heard thousands of Confessions.

I have heard Confessions in Confession Boxes,  Open Confessionals, on planes, on boats, in cars, in homes, in pubs, in toilets etc.

I have NEVER ONCE hurt another human being in Confession.

I have NEVER ONCE refused anyone absolution.

I have NEVER ONCE met anyone who was a bigger sinner than I am.

I am sad that Confession - Good Confession I mean - has fallen into disuse.

I am sad that many priests have given Confession a bad name by their behaviour.

I am sad that many people in our world have lost the sense of right, wrong and sin.





I hope that in the future all that changes. 


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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE COUPLES WHO PAT MARRIED YESTERDAY:

WILLIAM AND MARGARET - MARRIED IN LARNE
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63 comments:

  1. Many years ago,our priest was told by a Psychiiatrist/Psychologist - not sure which - that most of his patients required the ministration of a priest - Sacrament of Reconciliation - rather than his efforts.
    Perhaps the alarming increase in suicides - and other problems - could be curtailed considerably if not entirely by seeking God's forgiveness and mercy in this Sacrament of reconciliation!
    Is this worthy of considerstion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is.

      But it helps ONLY when the priest has good people skills, compassion and is capable of sending people away guilt free and burden free.

      There is nothing as bad as meeting a tyrant priest in confession.

      Delete
    2. Coming up on eighty years of age - never encountered a tyrant priest in all that time!
      My apologies - that was me at 10.36.
      Armagh Sam

      Delete
    3. Your sins must have been very boring :-)

      Delete
    4. I once had confession forced on me. I was concerned about what was happening in the diocese and went to talk to a priest about it. I was told I was judgemental, told to apologise and given absolution. Shortly afterwards it hit the newspapers that the Lancaster diocese was 10m in debt and money had been taken out of parish funds which is against canon law. I had been right to be worried. The same priest met me in a corridor a few days later and said "And are you sorry". I gave him a hard look and said " No".

      Delete
    5. Jane,
      How can you have possibly confession forced on you?
      You received absolution - your priest - it seem to me broke the rules of the seal of confession if he asked you '... A few days later ...' If you were sorry.
      I can see no reason why you required absolution in any case!
      Pip

      Delete
    6. It happened. Clerical bullying.

      Delete
  2. Confessionals would be acceptable if

    -there was no pressure - there is. The Church forces you on pain of going to Hell forever to confess once a year or if you need to go to communion and are a "sinner", And what about the social and family pressure in some quarters? What about victims of clerical abuse being made to tell their private thoughts to a stranger?

    -the priest had a recognised counselling qualification and is going to function as a guide rather than a purveyor of Catholic bigotry and superstition

    -the main concern is the person's self-compassion and self-development and not God or sins or whatever

    The Church tells people who have serious sins that if they do not confess they will go to Hell forever if they do not repent. That is bullying. It is extremely damaging to children. The Church needs to be stopped from demanding that children be sent to a priest to confess their sins.

    What kind of religion tells people that if they hold back a serious sin in confession they have committed a mortal sin by lying to the Holy Spirit?

    The Church has no right to assess sin when it teaches such nonsense as that masturbation is a serious sin. It is the severity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is masturbation a sin?

      Woody Allen: "Only if its not done properly"

      :-)

      Delete
    2. Surely it is the penitent who assesses his own sinfulness and not the Confessor! If someone does not want to go to Confession - they do not have to!
      "Go, confess your sins to a priest." Was it not Jesus who said this - and was not this recommendation to go to a Jewish Rabbi - no 'Catholic' priests then???
      Can some Theologian cast light in this anomaly!
      ?

      Delete
  3. I'm shocked that priests do not have a psychology degree.
    What exactly are they skilled In, if anything?
    When I was studying psychology at 59 we had a c of I priest in our class, he then went on to ministry in Wales

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was in seminary I studied psychology.

      Delete
  4. Don't be absurd. Psychology is not a science. Your shocked too I presume that someone who writes in a parish bulletin doesn't need to have a degree in journalism. Psychology does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability. Get a grip and go rant about something important.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @11:01. Your study of psychology at 59 does not seem to have done you much good. Your underlying attack on priesthood diminishes you. and please don't try and say you were asking a question, your "question" was in fact making a statement. You should have covered this in psychology 101.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Whats with the Roman Catholic Lectionaries ? I thought you claimed not to be Roman Catholic ?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Pat for that information, I'm of the opinion that studying psychology is very useful in pastoral care.i was delighted when an outreach of Queens uni opened near where I worked and as a nurse I was able to arrange my duties so I could do a study that I found very useful and opened up a whole new perspective to my life.
    Even now, well into my 70s, I can learn something new daily.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Perhaps , Pat, some day you could write a blog outlining the couse of studies required for priesthood.
    I had understood that some dioceses require clerical students to have a degree
    before taking up studies at seminary...is this correct?
    It was explained to me then that a certain maturity was needed, eg a degree,for the younger men.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Does the church still teach that masturbation is sinful.? ?
    I would think it wrong if people were to gather in a group to masturbate.
    But to masturbate in the privacy of ones personal space

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe Father Mulhall in Turf Lodge could organise a Parish Masturbation Club - meeting - let's say - twice a week?

      Delete
    2. Maybe the comment at 12:55 needn't have been passed by the moderator.

      Maybe "Is it a sin?" is not the right question. Maybe like many other harmless or indifferent things it CAN be a sin depending on the context. It can also be a symptom of something, maybe even a symptom of a more or less serious moral or mental disorder.

      Delete
  10. Just finished reading your book Pat, "A Thorn in the Side". A great read. Most enlightening. I am pleased that you are consistent on your views and beliefs from when you first became a Priest. There is a lot of truth in what you wrote and in what you say. God bless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking time to read the book.

      Delete
  11. I didn't ask if it was a sin, I asked re the Catholic Church teaching.
    Some posters are getting very tetchy....yawn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think official church teaching says it is a serious sin that can bring you to Hell!

      Delete
  12. Thanks Pat x....I will refrain from further comment on the subject...lol

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fr Brendan Hoban ACP Athlone
    What do you think , Pat ?
    Perhaps you could incoporate his talk into telling us exactly the type of training our priests actually have...
    They now seem to be very isolated from all other normal humans

    ReplyDelete
  14. The sacrament is for confessing sins, not a counselling session. It's the ordinary means that God has provided for the forgiveness of sins. To suggest it's not required is to contradict Jesus Christ. The priest has a duel role as judge and healer in the sacrament. And of course Pat had no faculties to hear confessions in any diocese in Ireland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I told Old Nun Daly 30 years ago - "I take my faculties from a far higher source than corrupt Irish bishops" :-)

      Delete
    2. I would love to have seen thon aul doll Kitty Daly's face, Pat, when you said that to her :-D

      Delete
    3. Her face swelled with blood and her carotid arteries pulsated.

      She also said to me: "The voice of the bishop is the voice of god".

      To that I replied:

      "Does that men when you fart Gid farts".

      She left the room in a tantrum.

      Delete
    4. Priceless! LOL

      Delete
  15. Happy to take the house you squat in though in Larne. Or did God give you a magic house?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in The Oratory pursuant to a Belfast High Court agreement agreed to by the Bishop of Down and Connor. Totally legit :-)

      Delete
  16. A friend of mine was chatting to four American priests who all regularly received visits from Protestant ministers in the confessional to unburden themselves without expecting ro receiving absolution or presumably believing that the priest was able to offer it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once heard the confession of an Anglican Archbishop in lourdes and gave him absolution.

      Delete
  17. Great interview Pat . Well done. The Irish Bishops need absolution from you for all the hurt and shit Cathal Daly did to you. THEIR BROTHER BISHOP.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Haven't been since 2014, the thing is I've nothing to tell God or nothing to ask his forgivness for,

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sam...
    Shame on that psychiatrist, he / she was supposed to help the mentally ill, instead of pouring scorn on their ailments.
    Glad they closed that place down

    ReplyDelete
  20. 21.15
    Can see little difference between my friend Sam input and that of Bishop Buckey's psychologist neighbour.
    It seems self-evident to me that quite a lot of - to simplify it - mental problems have a spiritual basis!
    I am sure that all good psychiatrists and psychologists have a serious interest in the welfare of their patients!
    And what or where is the place you are glad they closed down?
    Pip

    ReplyDelete
  21. Al Porter has just admitted he needs antidepressants...are you saying his problem is spiritual
    Just wish that people would understand that mental ill health exists.....nothing to do with needing spiritual guidance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you know?
      It is generally accepted to be the case!
      Since the good Bishop,seems -,for once at least be,- be of a similar frame of mind to Sam - his comment would be appreciated'
      Al Porter - never heard of him! If he is depressed he might be better taking his dog for a walk'
      Again, Bishop, please comment on this!
      Pip

      Delete
  22. Have to say I get more out of the ' cutting edge'' than I wd from confession.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that the mental and the spiritual (not religious) are very connected.

      The spirit, the mind and the psyche are connected.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for that, Bishop.
      Talking to my friend, Sam, we appreciate and agree with your reply!
      Pip

      Delete
  23. I am a daily communicant, yet I haven't been to confession for over 40 years.
    I make a sincere act if contrition before receiving The Host and then spend the next intimate moments with my Creator expressing my thanks.
    I am on a 1 to 1 with my God and most respectfully don't need any priest to perform an absolution in which I have no belief or trust.
    Two personal experiences of the confessional remain embedded in my mind since I was a teenager and a young man.
    The first was in the study of the head brother of the college I attended. We were on retreat and at the end of same a visiting priest heard our confessions in the study. I knelt on a prie dieu before my confessor who told me that his intimate fondling was to make me relax and banish any fears I may have in outpouring my sins. I genuinely hadn't a clue that I was being sexually abused.(13 year olds in the 1960's were so different to today's teenager)

    The second was a completely different and very enlightening experience when in my 20's I went to confession to a Fr.Nash who was then a columnist with the Irish Press. Fr Nash questioned his own credentials in hearing my confession and suggested that I not be beating myself over trivial matters which could not possibly be offensive to God. He concluded by giving me some advice... Strive to do a good turn for your neighbour as often as you can and never pass the door of your best friend.
    I follow his advice to this day...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Franciscan missioner in St Peters Cathedral Belfast - 1978 - 1983 used to get women to suck his finger while he masturbated in the confessional.

      Gives a whole new meaning to getting relief while confessing your sins !!!

      Delete
    2. Presumably this - if it is true -,in an old style confessional would place this man in a five-star contortionist mode.
      Not a reincarnation of Houdini?
      Where is this man now?

      Delete
  24. Spiritual is being connected to the soul through the mind
    Pip..you seem to have no concept of mental ill health...what a cruel reply and an affront to all those people who suffer....take the dog for a walk....how insulting is that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had a few heavy-duty depression sessions.
      I found that walking my dog on Slieve Gullion was therapeutic.
      Where is the insult ?
      Lighten up, chum.
      Pip

      Delete
  25. Thanks for the laugh , pat, what silly woman wd do that
    Are you sure It was his finger.
    Do you think a missionary priest could disguise his dick as a finger.
    I know some women can be gullible
    But surely not that gullible

    ReplyDelete
  26. 23.00
    You must get a lot of cups of tea
    Sometimes, just sometimes I do be glad when my friends walk on by..
    Personally I would not like my neighbours to keep dropping by
    But I do agree confession is not for me...general confession is good where a priest gives general absolution.not sure when that happens, prob around Easter

    ReplyDelete
  27. Snap out of it is a common quote
    I wonder how you would get along with Bressie, if you tried telling him that
    Suppose you never heard of him either
    You don't know me, so please keep the chum word for your friend Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are quire right, I never heard of Bressie!
      I am off up Gullion with my dog - you CHUM - have given me a mild fit of depression.
      Pip

      Delete
  28. There are two arms to the cross. On the vertical if we confess our sins the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, but the reason for the confessional box is that on the horizontal we sin against one another so the priest on behalf of the body acts 'inpersona Christi' that's why when we come to the altar if someone has anything against us, we should be reconciled first before presenting ourselves at the table of the Lord.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I don't know, Pat, if you have met many families from where they had a suicide in the family.
    I'm distressed that you gave no comeback to the first post where Sam
    Inferred that if a suicidal person went to confession and sought forgivness, he or she would not take their own life.
    Surely you should have give a reply to the horrendous post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am doing a Blog tomorrow to answer your question - a blog called SUICIDE AND CONFESSION.

      Delete
  30. Please note 10.51 that my main point was 'Is this (confession) worthy of consideration?'' I inferred nothing - repeated what I had been told - and it does seem to me that it is certainly worthy of consideration.
    Note also the good Bishop's immediate reply - seemed to agree with me and the fact that he quoted an almost identical conclusion in the main blog - in italics - from his neighbouring psychiatrist.
    Never in this world would I try to distress any one.
    The inference came from two psychiatrists.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you , pat, I worked in the caring profession all my life and I don't appreciate anyone diminishing the need to respect those suffering
    from mental ill health issues as needing to 'walk a dog ' as a cure.
    Please try and intervene when poster get too flippant in their replies.
    As an aside, suicide has not visited my family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It HAS visited my family :-(

      I will talk about it tomorrow.

      Delete
    2. With respect 12.42
      Physical exercise - power walking - walking of any description is highly recommended therapy for depression

      Delete
    3. And the company of a dog is also therapeutic.
      Ownership and caring for a dog has recently been highlighted as of exceptional value in the welfare of children.
      Perhaps Pip may not be wrong at all.

      Delete