Friday, March 1, 2013

How NOT To Promote Confession

The video below was posted by a young priest three years ago in an attempt to convince people to go to Confession.  One could say it's rather "novel".  See additional remarks below the video.

Unique, wasn't it?  Let's hope it remains unique, meaning "not to be repeated".

May I humbly propose my "novel" idea?  Let a video be made, where the presenter (be they cleric or lay) conducts him/herself as a rational, dignified adult as opposed to acting like a barker selling snake-oil at a carnival side-show.  Unfortunately we just saw the latter.

Moreover, how about the presenter treating his/her viewers as though they too were mature, rational adults rather than treat them as though their mental/emotional developments were stunted at the teeny-bopper level?  Again, we saw the latter.

St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, never tried to "entertain" his congregation into receiving the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation.  What did he do?  He preached the truth from his pulpit.  He let his congregation knew precisely what constituted sin.  He was not afraid to preach on the Four Last Things.  He made very clear that mortal sins (and he defined them explicitly), unconfessed at the end of one's life, would cause a person to go to hell.  I read in a life of his where he told a penitent, who didn't have sufficient contrition, in no uncertain terms that he was damned if he retained his current attitudes.

The sainted Cure certainly didn't put on "dog and pony shows" such as that you just saw.  He realized that as a priest he stood as an Alter Christi, not a stand-up-comic clone.  He treated the subject matter of sin and reconciliation with all due gravity.  Were people intimidated by this?  Did they avoid his confessional?  Quite the contrary.  People came from places far and wide to have him hear their confession.  After the long travels, they would wait patiently in his line for days.  That's right - days!   Not minutes, not hours -days!

The juvenile approach that this video evinced was bad enough, but the bit about the "just-baptized feeling" borders on dangerous.  Ladies and gentlemen, the sacraments are not about "feelings" at all.  Maybe "feelings" are present and maybe they aren't.  It doesn't matter.  The efficacy of the sacraments is due to them being instituted by Jesus Christ Himself and administered by His Church.  If one properly confesses to a priest, their sins are - in fact - forgiven when the priest gives the absolution.  One can literally jot down the date and time that Father absolved them of a heinous mortal sin.  No doubt there is a peace of mind, but that is far different from "feelings".

Let me be clear about one thing.  I mean no disparagement to this young priest at all.  I've no doubt that his heart is in the right place.  At least this is an attempt to get people to avail themselves of the sacrament.  He's young.  I suspect this was part and parcel of his seminary formation.  I trust a little real-world experience will cure this.  Let us pray that the new Pontiff will correct any lackluster priestly education.

Note to commenters:  Please don't bother with "but it's cute!"  Ladies and gentlemen, "cute" is not what is needed.  The Sacraments must be treated with dignity and respect.  The truth must be presented without gimmicks.  Souls are going to hell and the Sacraments were instituted to save them.  That is a very serious matter and it's an insult to truth to try to "lighten it up".

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