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The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The lost sacrament.


Those who come into the Catholic Church as neophytes desire to absorb as much of the Church as they can. What draws many to the church after getting the facts about the Catholic Church is the Holy Eucharist, but there is also another sacrament that draws non-Catholics to the church. Unfortunately it may be a dying sacrament for lack of a better word.


I can't help wonder if the meaning of sin has changed or has been watered down to something of a slight offense. Can you recall those days as a child when you took something that did not belong to you and got caught? You were punished and promised never to do it again. Depending on the severity of your punishment you probably backed away from that offense never to do it again. If you fell back into it, you welcomed the punishment because you recognized your mistakes and wanted to do better.

Secular society will have us to believe that there is no right and no wrong; what you believe to be right is right and what you believe to be wrong is wrong. As much resistance as the Catholic Church has received from the first century it stands firm to the beliefs and teachings of Jesus. Most certainly there is right and wrong in the world and anyone who calls themselves a Christian would know the difference. Do we sometimes fall short and give in to our guilty pleasures of siding with wrong over right? Or course we do,  but there is a way to move from the dark and back into the light.

As human beings we sometimes find it difficult to forgive others who hurt us, yet we know we are called to forgive, not one time or seven times, but rather seventy times seven times (no exact amount of times). As new members seek to join the Catholic Church they anticipate the long awaited moment of going to confession. The long awaited moment to open their hearts to God's tender loving care. It's so sad when I hear people say that God knows what's in my heart, so I don't need to ask him for anything or pray for forgiveness; he knows that I am sorry. If only it was that easy.

Just as we seek relationships with one another, God wants a relationship with us. He desires for us to come to Him with all of troubles and scars so that He can wash us clean. Jesus is calling us to confession to wash away our sins. Have you ever tried to ask someone for forgiveness and they said no because to them you did not appear to be sorry for your indiscretions? Well for those who love to say: "I go directly to God in prayer for forgiveness," what if in your heart you were not truly sorry. Do you believe you would be forgiven? Confessing our sins to a Priest allows us to express humility and drop our guard that we put up that shelters our hidden secrets.

Having heard your confession the priest recognizes that you are sorry and shares a story about Jesus' love for you and His desire to have you back home (or something very similar). When you have expressed your sorrow he then absolves you in the name if 'Jesus Christ.' The feeling of a burden and relief is immediately lifted where you can only wonder afterwards if you walked out or floated out of the confessional. Unfortunately for anyone who does not appear to be sorry for their sins will not receive absolution. It's a sad, but true moment! 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

Have we allowed secular society to dictate to us what is right from wrong? Have we lost our way? Do you feel that as long as you keep the Ten Commandments, then you are alright by God? In the Gospel reading during the twenty eight Sunday in Ordinary Time there was a man who came to Jesus and ask how he could have eternal life. He indicated to Jesus that he followed the Ten Commandments, but what more could he do. Jesus tells him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. The point here being, do you believe that you are set because you follow the Ten Commandments?

They seem so simple don't you think? Going down the list you probably believe you have never broken any or them, but oh how much more in-depth we can look into them. Week by week each Sunday the confessional is open at my Parish half an hour before Mass and the number of parishioners who seek to pay a visit is little (as in maybe one) to none. We cannot judge anyone, but it makes you wonder if we have forgotten the purpose of the sacrament of confession and how many graces we receive from participating.

No one ever wants to be the first to do something and so it's no exception with who enters the confessional first. As you enter you can feel the eyes on your back, some members may even try to guess why you would need to go in there as if only those who commit serious sins venture behind that closed door. What a glorious day it would be if one time I could get an applause when I step out of the confessional that would say to me "welcome home." Rather I'm left feeling as though I am the only sinner among my fellow parishioners as I dear not look directly in their eyes. The time and effort our priests put into sitting and waiting to hear our sins should be applauded. Week after week the lines are empty, but there is still hope. Just as Jesus never forces us to follow Him, the Church does not force us to come to confession.

If you feel as though you are on the straight and narrow path with no need to participate in the sacrament of confession allow me share a list of sins you should consider worth confessing. They are from a priest that I follow regularly (Fr. Richards):

Do you pray regularly?
Do you use God's name in vain?
Do you miss Mass?
Do you dishonor your parents?
Have you gotten angry?
Have you hurt others with your words?
Have you made fun of others?
Have you helped someone have an abortion?
Have you had impure thoughts?
Have you had impure actions with self?
Have you had intercourse with another if you're not married?
Do you commit adultery?
Have you used artificial birth control?
Have you had sex with someone of the same sex?
Have you looked at ponography?
Have you lied?
Have you cheated?
Have you stolen?
Have you gossiped?
Have you been jealous?
Have you gotten drunk?
Have you gotten high?
Have you been judgmental?
Have you been proud?
Do you consistently take care of the poor?

Having gone through the list above have you thought of any others that you know is wrong, but secular society have made it seem alright? Let's face it, this is some hard stuff to write much less consider, but this is reality and need not be sugar coated. We can not continue to live as though we will only be placed in time-out for offending God. A stark reality is that if we die today with having committed a mortal sin then we will not have etenal life. It will not matter how nice you were as a person while you were alive on earth. Let me make it as clear as I can: "Good people are also going to hell."

Jesus loves us and wants us to come to Him, to pour our souls out to Him and to seek forgiveness. He is a forgiving God who wants each of us to share in eternal life with Him. The sacrament of confession breaks the chains and bondages of sin and opens our eyes to the lie we've been living. How many times have you heard that knock on your heart to open up and allow Jesus to come in. He is calling you!

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