October 23 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m happy to report that I received over 150 email responses to my bulletin survey, accounting for over 200 people! I was also surprised by the fact that I even got several emails before the weekend since the bulletins are published online ahead of time (quite the eager crowd!). If you have any questions or topics that you’d like me to address (in 350 words or less), don’t hesitate to send me an email with your ideas.

In the meantime, you may have noticed that I don’t regularly offer confession face-to-face. Likewise, I purposefully avoid looking at the people waiting in line for confession whenever I walk into “the sin bin”. (If you haven’t noticed this, then get yourself to confession!)  Anyways, I do these things because the penitent and the priest both have a right to anonymity in confession. Sometimes this isn’t possible because of circumstances and that’s fine. I have absolutely no problem with face-to-face.

Still, I don’t want to remember your sins as much as you don’t want me to remember them! Even if I were to recognize your voice, having fewer senses attached to the experience makes it easier for me to forget about it (remember my little memory knight homily?). It’s also not as if your sins scare me. I hear face-to-face confessions of people in jail on trial for heinous crimes. Furthermore, while face-to-face is a very courageous practice, I don’t want people to feel guilty for not going face-to-face. Hopefully this helps make it as easy as possible for everyone to be brutally honest in confession.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I prefer anonymous confession because I think it’s more fitting. While I appreciate the ‘humanness’ of face-to-face, it makes clearer as you stare at the crucifix (and not at my wonderful face) that the priest is himself a sacrament (Holy Orders makes it so!). Confession reconciles us to God and His Church, not just Father Y. The priest, regardless of whether he’s Padre Pio or Padre James has the same authority to forgive sins, and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re there for!

Father James