I hope that our non-Catholic friends will pardon many of us Catholics today. They will probably sense that we’re a bit jittery: This is Holy Week, and, today is Reconciliation Monday throughout all five boroughs, Long Island, and seven counties north of the Bronx, reaching almost to Albany. Sometime this week, especially today in the Archdiocese of New York, Diocese of Brooklyn, and Diocese of Rockville Centre (as every parish in those three dioceses has confessions available from 3:00-9:00) many of us will approach the sacrament of penance to conclude Lent and be ready for Easter.
So, we’re a little nervous. Going to confession is like a trip to the dentist: we know it’s good for us, and we sure feel better afterwards, but we’re anxious about doing it.
The simple truth is, we are sinners. We Catholics – - like all Christians, and our Jewish neighbors – - acknowledge that our sins not only offend our loving God and harm ourselves, but that they hurt everybody else.
We claim to be people of love, and, I’m afraid, sometimes are hateful; we pretend to be selfless, and often are the opposite; we say we’re honest, and on occasion lie and cheat; we’re supposed to be for peace, and end-up fighting and arguing. We say we’re humble, but are all too often cocky and arrogant. As is evident from what Pope Francis expressed Friday, we remain sickened and sorry for such a horror as the abuse of minors by priests, and negligence by bishops, however tiny a percent of clergy they may be. We have disregarded the commandments, the beatitudes, the Bible, and the teaching of Jesus and His Church. We admit it. We’ve hurt God, ourselves, and our neighbors. We’re sorry.
We know God forgives us when we ask Him to, because He told us so. We experience that in Confession. We find it hard at times to forgive ourselves. And we ask those whom we have offended to pardon us for our failure to practice what we preach.
I guess that’s why we describe ourselves as “practicing Catholics,” because we keep trying to get it right.
So, this week finds us somber, as we recall what our sins did to Jesus that first Good Friday. Jesus, on his way to His cross, fell three times, which means, in the Bible, “a lot.” We slip and fall a lot too!
But, this Holy Week finds us ultimately joyful, grateful, renewed as we celebrate His resurrection from the dead this Easter Sunday.
Today finds us jittery as we prepare for confession on this “Reconciliation Monday.”
So, to our non-Catholic friends who read this blog, I say thanks for your patience with us, not only today, but every day, as we often stumble and fall in what I hope is our ongoing journey to follow Jesus more faithfully and generously.
And, to my fellow Catholics, I strongly urge you to take advantage of this most wonderful sacrament. If you’re in New York, Brooklyn, or Rockville Centre, stop by any Church between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. today, and a priest will be waiting to hear your confession. If you’re outside the New York metropolitan area, I am sure your local parish will have additional opportunities to receive the Sacrament.
Happy Passover to our Jewish neighbors!
Happy Holy Week and Easter to our Christian neighbors!