Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Apart from Pope Francis' consistent catechesis on the devil and his influence but certainly tied into  it  is the Holy Father's call to every Catholic to go to confession frequently. All of us know that in the years of decline of the Church since the false "spirit" of Vatican II (an anti-Christ spirit, if I might be so bold) is the decline in the use of the Sacrament of Penance by the majority of people who need it and those who need it the most presenting themselves for Holy Communion, in fact we have seen an increase in the number of Catholics presenting themselves for Holy Communion at any given Mass, since Vatican II and without the benefit of being alive in God's grace due to unrepentant mortal sin or a misguided theology that teaches them there is no need for the Sacrament of Penance for mortal sin prior to receiving our Lord in Holy communion!

What's is wrong with this picture? The Church still teaches as does Pope Francis, that we need the Sacraments of the Church, especially Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist and we need the Sacrament of Penance to be made worthy by God's grace to receive our Lord in a state of pure grace where our souls are cleansed of the filth and death of sin, mortal and venial. Of course the Mass itself is a remedy for venial sin when repentance is present in the sinner. But not so for mortal sin, the Sacrament of Penance is required for these sins.

I like what the Baltimore Catechism teaches children and adults about the sacraments as it makes it so clear and understandable.

Baptism and Penance are sacraments for the dead!

Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, as well as Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony are sacraments of the living. Anointing of the Sick I suppose is in between.

What does this mean that Baptism and Penance are Sacraments for the dead?

It means that because of Original and actual sin, our souls are dead to Christ's grace and can only be "resurrected" through these two sacraments. Obviously the Sacrament of Baptism can be received only once for the soul dead because of Original and actual sin. Baptism releases the soul from the clutches of Satan l but our Lord's sanctifying grace does not make us perfect, we are capable of killing the life-giving effects of Sanctifying Grace through actual sin.

Mortal sin removes the soul's God given grace  and makes us dead once again and in the grip of Satan. Repentance through the Sacrament of Penance allows our Lord to forgive us and bring the soul make to life through actual grace, so that we can participate worthily in the other sacraments of the Church, especially the Most Holy Eucharist.

The Sacraments of Confirmation and especially the Most Holy Eucharist are Sacraments of the living, those whose souls have been cleansed either through the Lord's sanctifying grace in Holy Baptism or in Penance for the mortal sins we commit after baptism. To receive Confirmation, Holy Eucharist or any other Sacrament in a "dead" state is another mortal sin and a sacrilege. It has no spiritual effects on the dead soul and casts it deeper into the grip of the devil.

I think the most important aspect of the REFORM OF THE REFORM is the recovery of the proper understanding of the sacraments and the recovery of the need for the Sacrament of Penance. In fact, just as baptism and penance must precede the reception of Holy Communion, so too should the "reform of the reform" focus first on the Sacrament of Penance and a recovery of its practice according to the pre-Vatican II model in terms of the frequent use of it by the majority of active, practicing Catholics precede the "reform of the reform" of the Mass, although the two should walk hand-in-hand.

Once we recover the Sacrament of Penance and its proper place and order in terms of receiving the Sacraments of the Living, then we can focus more intently on the "reform of the reform" of the 1970 Roman Missal  meaning its proper celebration in continuity with the spirituality, reverence and ethos of the 1962 missal!

Here is what Pope Francis said this morning (synopsis) at his Wednesday general audience on the Sacrament of Penance:

(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the English language synthesis of Pope Francis’ Catechesis for the General Audience on Wednesday 19 February 2014:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other. While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the centre and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.


Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

I'm a few years your junior, and so I have no experience of the shift between frequent confession to rare confession as the common practice. I'm assuming the shift occurred in the Seventies, and I'm curious to hear your description of how it happened so fast and so far. Was there some letter that went out from chanceries telling priests to discourage this sacrament? Theologians are in universities and seminaries, so how did there errors get out to the faithful?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The implementation of Vatican II immediately following the Council was misguide, misdirected and sometimes heretical. Clergy and laity actually thought new doctrines and dogmas were taught and old ones changed. This was and is very insidious.
Tied into this, was the clergy's call to the laity to be more adult and less childlike in their faith and not to run to father for everything and to use their conscience to decide for themselves what was sin and what wasn't.
There was a tremendous push to redefine the Sacrament of Penance and to get rid of private confession in favor of Communal Absolution and to even make that the part of the Mass.
Then there was the push to prepare children for Penance after Holy Communion and usually in the 4th grade. When I arrived here in 2004 that was still the practice, which I stopped immediately.
Then priests didn't preach about it, encourage it and reduced the times when it was available.
All of this and much more has contributed to the fall off in the use of this sacrament and the old question of the 1970's "Whatever happened to Sin" is part of the problem too. No one could actually define sin anymore and most were reluctant to use the categories of venial and mortal sin any longer as it might damage us psychologically. I'm okay and you're okay became dogma for many Catholics of this period.
We should not underestimage the savage confusion that irresponsible spirit of Vatican II clergy and laity sowed in rank and file Catholic families which were very strong and had a very sound, traditional Catholic identity prior to the Council. This was lost almost overnight and has had a ripple effect to this day on our Catholic families. There is no real consensus any longer of what constitutes a common Catholic identity as there was prior to the Council. Coloring book religious education materials compounded and exacerbated the problems and continues to do so.

Anonymous said...

Just when has the Church ever taught that the priest in confession "represents the people". That's not a question by the way because the Church have never taught that. Again he has no clue what The Church teaches. He just spews liberal feel good nonsense.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, progressives turned the sacrament of penance into a feel good therapeutic model encouraging face to face confession and sometimes insisting upon it rather than the "confessional box." I think many traditional Catholic then and today still prefer anonymity when they go to confession which enables them to say secretly out loud what they might be embarrassed to say in front of a priest. We no longer allow for face to face at St. Joseph and evidently word has gotten out since we have seen an increase in the number availing their dead souls to this sacrament. Obviously there are some who prefer face to face, but they are the minority. We eliminated it because our confessional is secluded and a priest could be accused today of anything which might or might not have happened there.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Ann, I am deleting your anti-Catholic, anti-pope screed. Repent. And please move away from your coloring book, spirit of Vatican II Catholicism that hates authority. You sound very 1960's in a 2000 sort of way. The priest indeed represents the Church in that he through the ministry of the Church reconciles sinners and brings them back into the good graces of the Church. The Church is the People of God with Christ as our Head. God uses the human to make known His love. The priest is a mediator and represents the High and exclusive priesthood of Jesus in that the priest represents the people to God and God to the people.

Pater Ignotus said...

I don't think it is correct to say that "because of Original and actual sin, our souls are dead to Christ's grace..."

In spite of sin, Original or Personal, grace can and does operate in the sinner, calling him/her to repentance, equipping the sinner to do good works, leading the individual toward salvation.

The Catechism says we are disfigured by sin: 705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God."

The new life we receive through the sacraments can be weakened or lost by (mortal) sin: 1420 This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin.

qwikness said...

How about a video on your blog or church website about How to Go to Confession. Like this or Not Like that kind of thing. For a while it seemed the confessional was a therapy session. For some, particularly reverts and those with a weak Catholic home the only reference is some Hollywood production or some pamphlet at the back of the church.
I know a deterrent of mine is that I struggle with same sin and don't want to keep coming saying the same thing. I imagine the priest saying, "When is he going to learn." Sometimes I feel the only thing that I have to confess is the old demon and am embarrassed by returning for that.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Be it done according to thy word!

Rood Screen said...


Trust me, you'd be hard-pressed to provoke a confessor to shocked condemnation. We've heard it all before, over and over and over again. More than likely, your confessor must himself confess habitual sins to his own confessor. We hear confessions to impart mercy, not condemnation.

Pater Ignotus said...

qwik - I echo JBS on your not being able to shock the priest in Confession. I often say that, after the first six months, I have heard nothing new in Confession.

"Boring as sin" is not just a saying!

Anonymous said...

"I know a deterrent of mine is that I struggle with same sin and don't want to keep coming saying the same thing. I imagine the priest saying, "When is he going to learn." Sometimes I feel the only thing that I have to confess is the old demon and am embarrassed by returning for that."

Quikness, believe me when I tell you that I know EXACTLY how you feel and have the same problem. You're not alone, and however much it might be embarrassing confessing the same thing over and over, the priest most likely realizes that human nature very often results in the same vices repeating themselves.

George said...

John 20:21-23
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven
them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained..”

There are those who have doubts about the passage above from John. I would ask: Is God not
omnipotent? Would he leave the earth and not confer the power to forgive sins, since He is
omnipotent and has the power to do so? I don’t need someone to interpret scripture in another
way and tell me that Christ did not do this, when He, Who is Mercy and Generosity itself, would by His nature desire to do this .
Does He not have the means to confer the power to forgive sins onto men if He so chooses?
Is He not merciful? Does He Who created man not know man and his tendency to doubt and his need for assurance? That man would have a need to actually hear that his sins
are forgiven? My faith tells me that He who has Divine Power and is Mercy and Generosity itself can and did do this.