(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
This week at mass the first two signs of a healthy parish were in evidence.
As people went up for communion there were some who approached with crossed arms receiving a blessing instead showing respect for the presence of Christ by publicly admitting that they were not properly disposed to receive as per the 1st sign of a healthy parish.
Furthermore not only large families were in evidence but during the responsorial psalm (which this week for Gaudete Sunday was the Mary’s prayer of praise the Magnificat ) the young child who had so loudly prayed the Our Father two weeks ago was praying this. Clearly his parents had taught him his prayers well. All of this is in line with the 2nd sign of a healthy parish.
But the 3rd sign of a healthy parish was also present as we left as the father of that boy held back to ask our priest if he had time to hear his confession.
I and others have often done the same both after a Sunday mass and in the gap between the two daily masses (offered at 7 AM & 8 AM Mon-Thurs). Invariably (although once in a while when there is a family waiting for a baptism the confession has been quick) our pastor has agreed which can be a handy thing because the only thing more reliable than his agreement is that if you turn up for confession at the usual time (3:15 or so on Saturday before the 4:15 mass) you will find a line.
This is very much in line with the sermon that was preached today where Father noted that all people need to be saved from their sins by God and the sacrifice of Christ. As he put it:
Go to a convent and the oldest and most devout nun you there will be in need of the saving power of God.
This is a basic tenant of Christianity. Remember John the Baptist who Christ himself said was greater than any man born of woman declared in Today’s Gospel that his “sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.“ and in Matthew’s Gospel declared to Jesus: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”
If such as John needed the Baptism of Christ for the forgiveness of his sins how much more you and me?
Furthermore a good priest who regularly hears your confession is in a good position to be a life coach steering you away from thing that are a danger to your soul.
I have known parishes where the priest will go the entire hour confessions are offered without a person coming or with maybe one or two regular penitents. This is always a sign of danger. Pride is the 1st of the deadly sins for a reason.
Find a parish with a line for confession and a priest always ready to hear one and you will find a parish that will be around for many years to come.