This week we observe the second of the three great holidays, Thanksgiving Day. Second? Yes, when one figures in Halloween which, according to news reports, is the second most celebrated American holiday, second only to the December one which everyone used to call Christmas. (Word is out that President Trump has declared that it's once again OK to say, "Merry Christmas." That may be reassuring to some, but to those who never championed political correctness it is, in an ironic bit of pointing the finger, "fake news.")
Thanksgiving Day is worthy of Christian endorsement so long as we recall that there's an object to our thanks -- namely God -- to whom we owe our very existence as well as everything we have. As I remarked in a pastor's column of some past year, secular society gladly embraces Thanksgiving Day for its commercial potential (kicking off, as they say, the holiday spending spree) and for the momentary reprieve of work. One may openly express thankfulness for anything whatever if it is left unsaid that the gratitude must be direct to the Almighty.
Just this past week I made thanksgiving to God for one of the most precious of His gifts to me as a Catholic: the absolution of my sins. (In case you didn't know, priests not only hear confessions but make themselves penitents of other priests.) It so happened that this confession was in close proximity to my birthday (the admission of which is not meant to cue a raucous rendition of the familiar dirge). Confession, I would say, is a great Catholic way of celebrating one's birthday, compelling one to recollect one's utter dependence upon God for forgiveness, for His grace, for life itself. Going to confession ought not to make one grumpy and cross. I'm reminded of what I once read about a composer Igor Stravinsky who would faithfully go to confession on his birthday, the prospect of which would put the composer, in his own words, "in a mood," that is, crabby.
The confession of my sins reminds me of my lowly place under God's infinitely vast empire and that I must ever be grateful to Him for His merciful indulgence to my sinful self. Going to confession also reminds me of what it is to be a penitent in my confessional who must not only accuse himself of his sins before God, but who must also own up to his wrongdoings before a priest, one who is as fallible as another -- so that I will not easily to be compassionate and understanding of penitents. I have posted a few choice scriptural quotes on the door of my confessional. These help me to be kindly disposed to those beggars of divine mercy who come to me to be freed of the burden of their consciences. Should ever I fail in this and get uppity or impatient with you in confession, do me the charity of asking me to read the bible verses on my confessional door. That should awaken a needed humility and spare me a severe judgment from the Judge of judges.
Last week's somewhat panicky pastor's Descant forecasting a gloomy future for our parish Forty Hours devotion appears to have been overwrought. Attendance for the closing Mass at noon last Sunday was good and there always seemed to be someone adoring our Lord during the hours of Exposition. The real credit for the devotion, of course, goes to the benevolent Christ who makes Himself and His graces available during this sacred time. I want to make the Forty Hours a great spiritual success for our people and I would be sad to let go of it when we have held on to it so tenaciously these many years. Accordingly, I have asked a small committee to be formed for securing the future of the Forty Hourse Devotion in our parish. They would meet in September next year to plan for a greater participation and greater solemnity for this traditional parish service.
You will note the near completion of the handicapped entrance ramp on the church's south side, a project that has taken an unduly long time to come to completion. If its serviceability matches its fine looks, I would say that we will have a worthy addition -- or rather replacement entryway -- to our majestic church structure.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
It's almost Thanksgiving ... and Fr. Perrone goes to Confession!
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, November 19, 2017)