after reading Fr Z’s blog entry today(there are several)decided to bring up the topic myself.Background :Woman goes to confession.Priest asks if she was married.Answer:YES. In the Sacrament of Matrimony,that is in a Catholic church.Answer;no by a pastor outside the Church. Capital C.
Priest replies that she is in grave, mortal sin.
We can definitely feel sympathy for this woman. On the other hand it would be the same as a single woman ‘shacking up’ with a man and asking to receive the sacrament of confession with no intention of giving up the illicit relationship. NONE.
The priest could not absolve her and confession would be pointless. When we make our act of contrition it is with the firm purpose of not committing sin anymore. It doesn’t mean we will never sin again. It does mean we can’t deliberately continue to live in sin with an unwillingness to give up the mortal(sin unto death)sin we’re committing. Priest was correct and was looking out for the woman by telling her the truth. Fr Z was right-maybe he should have explained it better but he was truthful.
When we go to a priest we should remember their first responsibility is to be a shepherd. They cannot confirm us in our sins.
They want us to get to heaven. That’s their vocation. People leave angry sometimes when a priest doesn’t seem to see things their way. Sometimes a priest can be tired or frustrated like all human beings. For that reason maybe the confessor was a little short with the woman. On the other hand a priest who is truthful and looking out for our souls is not someone to be angry with.
Perhaps when we do feel that way we can try to find humility and grow in our faith. The priest offered to pray for her. It reminds me of Catholics who persist in using birth control or who support abortion or both(which is usually the case). It’s a grave matter. We may not like Church teaching but we can do two things; inform our faith and try to understand Church teaching.Two:accept it in obedience and remember that Christ Himself was obedient unto death. That’s what being a Catholic is all about.Dying to self. We may not do it in leaps and bounds. It’s difficult. It’s a daily struggle. We may only be willing to give up a little bit sometimes and struggle to give up more. Everyone is at a different place on the journey and i make no claim to have arrived.(Trust me,’ hubbs’ would concur).
Again,if it’s a mortal sin no priest is going to shepherd his flock to hell.
This is an opportunity for the woman to make things right with God and the Church. Unfortunately from the sounds of her letter her husband wasn’t too willing to co-operate. Perhaps we can ALL pray for her AND for her husband to have a change of heart.When we go to a priest we may have to be prepared not to get the answer we’d like but we should respect them for having to give us the tough answers sometimes.Also,pls remember they are human. Every priest has a different personality. Every priest has a bad day just like us. Give them some breathing room.Henry the VIII wanted the Church to grant him a divorce. Thomas More lost his life over this and the Church of England became a state church. So if the Church isn’t going to ‘bend the rules’ for a King it’s been my feeling they are not going to bend them for anyone.
P.S. Be sure to frequent Fr Z’s blog 🙂 not like confession but you get the drift.