Confession to a Priest?

The following short short writing was an exercise that my youth choir did to say why each one of us thought it necessary to confess our sins to the priest. This is what I wrote.

Confession of our sins to a priest
The sacrament of penance, also known as confession, is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ.

In the healing of the paralytic, Jesus had taught that he indeed had the power to forgive sins. After he had risen, he empowered his apostles to forgive sins.

"(Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."- John 20:21-23

That power to forgive sins has been passed through the direct descendance of the apostles, as it is inconceivable that Jesus would mean for his apostles to forgive sins, and not mean for future generations to receive the same forgiveness.

Sin is never a private matter. It is the breaking of our covenant with God, and as a member of the body of Christ, we have caused the body not to function healthily. In sinning, we make part of the body ill, or even sever it from the main body. Thus sin is never just a personal failing to God but to the community.Thus in confession, we confess our sins to the priest and seek forgiveness from Jesus, who is represented by the priest.

At the same time, the priest also represents the body of Christ in listening to our acknowledgement of our failings as a member of Christ's mystical body. That is why we cannot obtain forgiveness for our sins through privately confessing our sins to God. In being forgiven of our sins, we would regain full and effective membership in His mystical body, and that forgiveness flows from Christ through the His body.Confession to the priest also affords us with an opportunity on spiritual advice and as well as a chance to make amends to the injured Body of Christ, through penance in the form of prayers and good works.

Christ, having died on the cross has already paid for the price of our sin. Penance, is therefore not so that our sins may be forgiven, but that we might make reparation for the sins already forgiven. Again, the measure of how much reparation is in order would have to come from the priest, who represents God and the community. If we confessed to God privately, we would have to decide how much is needed ourselves, and that would not be very meaningful.

Photos from a church in Seattle

Since Chris put up some photos of SFX, I thought it might be OK if I shared some of my own. These are photos of the Chapel of St. Ignatius, my university chapel that I attend.

Chapel of St. Ignatius.
This is the right third of the chapel. Not a very large place, I think it seats only around 200.

Chapel of St. Ignatius.
The tabernacle is located to the side and back of the chapel, rather than behind the altar. So as you walk into the chapel proper, this is the first thing you see. The candle that's on the floor used to hang from the tree but I think the chain needs fixing. 

Chapel of St. Ignatius.
This is our baptismal font and is located near the entrance. Babies get dunked in here (they warm the water up first) but at Easter, we do our baptisms outside in the reflection pool. Pretty cold during that time of the year too!

"Just Catholic: Being Catholic in Difficult Times"

Hi all,

I would like to share this with you. It's a talk, entitled "Just Catholic: Being a Catholic in Difficult Times", by Fr. John Whitney, the Provincial of the Oregon Province of Jesuits and a familiar and loved face on the Seattle Unversity campus in past years. I have provided the link at the end of this blog if you'd like to read his talk in its entirety.

The one thing that truly struck me was his point on "Catholicism and the Small Box". In a nutshell, Fr. Whitney asserts that many of us have a dogmatic, rigid view of the Church and this he calls the "small box" and it is a rigidness perpetuated by BOTH the "conservatives" and the "liberals". The former values hierarchy, rules, and is reluctant to change. The latter, disdainful of precisely those qualities, chooses to step out of the box and stay on the fringes and in a way, perpetuates the dogma that they reject.

Neither group seeks to change or expand the small box of Catholicism and thus we do not progress.

I thought that was a powerful message, at least to me as a young adult with a rapidly changing inner (who I am, where do I come from, where am I going?) and outer world (Life, the Church, family, friends). In a time when the Church is troubled and seems out of date or imperfect or just "wrong", it helps to know that there is hope yet. Perhaps the church is like a family: I don't always agree with family rules or what family members choose to do, but loving, positive change in the Church can only be effective when it comes from within, from within the bonds of fellowship and a shared identity in the One who leads us, in Christ.

Well, that was just my two cent's worth but I hope others have gotten a dollar's worth of wisdom (or perhaps disagreement) from Fr. Whitney's lecture. If you did, please, do share! =)


click on 'permanent link' to read the full article...

Reality Bites

Reality Bites
By Nick Teo

After studying in Major Seminary for about 2 months, I am beginning to feel the struggle. For every morning, I would engage in a battle of wills with the devil. It would tell me to sleep and just go for the next class, whereas my angels would frantically shout out that I am pursuing knowledge, and each day's absence would be each day's loss of information. And I will frantically drag myself up and rush for lessons. Indeed, that's the battle of the flesh.

And then reality stuck me! Unlike usual university degrees or those part time MBA courses, the seminary courses would take 6 years. That's like 2 times longer than my BA and 6 times longer than an MBA course. Would I be able to go through all 6 years? It's after all, my SECOND month. It's just so hard.

That's not all, what am I pursuing this degree for? Certainly, I know that my passion and personal mission is to serve the church, and I know that I would just be an empty vessel if I do not pursue knowledge. And I certainly hope to serve the church full-time, to assist the priests so as to allow them to fully undertake their greatest role of administering sacraments and providing pastoral care for the community. But alas, as I go through each day's lessons and speak with more religious brothers from the Archdiosces and other religious groups, I get more and more discouraged.

I am faced with the likelihood that the prospect of working full-time would be low. And even if they were to really employ someday, it would just be the bare minimum wage. Now, I'm not going to complain about wages here, but I have got to eat, my family would have to eat. Would the bare minimum be enough? Then I would have to look for a part time job, or retain my present job. Then I would not be able to function as a full-time worker. And eventually, we would go back to the present, which is to depend on volunteers or those 'with lots of heart'.

To be fair, some big parishes have already employed full-time workers. And the problem lies in that such staffs comes from the coffers of the parish, and not from the Archdiosces. Thus, poor churches would never be able to employ more than their usual admin staffs. That becomes a viscous cycle, for without a strong team mixed with a priest(s) and some full-time workers, good pastoral care can never be adequately administered to the people. And they wonder why people leave the Catholic church.

Recently, I went into the website of a well-known 'New Independent Church'. In that, I found information of a well-distributed network of cellgroups, 2 institutions providing spiritual studies and full-time employment oppurtunities, different ministries and activities for their congregation to belong to. As much as I do not feel for their church-service, I am very intrigued and impressed with their efficient and well-thought network. They are meeting needs of people who wants to participate and to make this religion theirs.

My girlfriend who is a social worker once said this, the delinquents whom she counsels, she is confident that they would be welcomed in one of those Christian (sic) churches rather than to invite them to any Catholic churches where they would be lost into oblivion. I'm sure Catholics readers can identify with that.

To say that our Mass is the crux of our religion would be giving people the wrong message, because to be catholic is to be a community. So if our 'drawing point' to non-believers or first time visitors to our church is the Mass, then no wonder these people are clueless of what our religion is all about. It must be with explaination and understanding can one appreciate the beauty and importance of the Mass, otherwise it is just an hour of rituals. And I suppose rituals can never be the main focus of any religion, especially ours. Jesus himself scoffed at that.

I have many plans, but I wonder if our traditional and unwavering religious model would ever embrace the modern mindsets.

I once told a good friend of mine who is a Methodist, "we are 1600 years before you, but yet we are 1600 years after you."

Now, do not misquote me nor get me wrong. I love my church and I love my religion, but it is simply because I do that I want to make it special for others as it is for me. I am very sure that Catholics deserve much more.

For years, we speak about how to tap sunday-catholics. But if the roots and branches are not reaching far and wide, no matter how thick and secure those short roots and brances are, they would not reach them.

Whatever the future holds, I will continue to persevere within my parish. Afterall, what better message to bring across if I can succeed in my parish first.

Jesus asked us to "Set (our) hearts in the Kingdom of God", I am sure He will then unveil His plans.

Nick Teo is currently studying in the Major Seminary, he is at the Philosophy Cycle and struggling with the vast knowledge of the Church. He gets asked by curious seminarians frequently if he would be joining the seminary. And his answer is always a No, and that is the reason why he pays for his own courses. Otherwise, he would had just entered the seminary to received free theological education.
click on 'permanent link' to read the full article...

Some photos of St. Francis Xavier Church

Some images to share. St Francis Xavier Church interior.

Some images to share. St Francis Xavier Church interior.

Some images to share. St Francis Xavier Church interior.