Tag Archives: confession


Ever have one of those days?

My days are typically filled with exciting things. I always get to go to Mass which is the greatest thing to do. I get to teach my kids which is something I truly love. I make no money doing this but when I was a Catholic school teacher I similarly made no money so there’s no change there (when I was an administrator I made even less!). And most days I get to spend an ample amount of time on my front porch in the late afternoon enjoying a gin and tonic and watching my Sacred Heart flag gently blow in the breeze twenty feet above my quarter-acre signaling that all is right in my world.

Today? Not so much.

Today I missed Mass. strike #1.

I got the pleasure of shuttling guests of my wife’s company party back and forth between two area airports and a hotel. I actually enjoyed this as I love meeting new people and I love airports. We’ll call it a draw here.

My dryer is busted. Four years old and the drum ate away at the housing while the dish ran away with the spoon. I’ve been shuttling laundry to my mother-in-law’s house in between my other assigned tasks. Don’t buy a GE.

But the absolute worst thing today was confession. As in, it didn’t happen. I’ve been trying to go specifically for the November plenary indulgence. Unfortunately amidst all of my airport runs, I had to pick a church that I do not usually frequent – as in ever.

Confession at this church runs from 11-11:30. I arrived at 11:32 and got on line. There were five people in front of me. Person #1 enters the box and exits within two minutes. Person #2 meanwhile answered his phone, exited to the adjacent vestibule and proceeded to gab at full volume for about fifteen minutes. Person #3 (now serving as person #2) enters the box and seemingly got sucked into a black hole because she remained there for fifteen minutes. Person #4 enters the box next. While he was in there, the original Person #2 re-enters the church and jumps on the back of the line until… Person #5 (the only man standing between me and the priest at this point) motions for him to come back to his original spot.

The next thing that happened was that this line-cutter went in, presumably confessed his sins, and stepped out just in time for my watch to signal it was time for the moon Angelus. And then he dropped the bomb.

“Father said he has no more time. Sorry.”

So now my question is, when I get to confession tomorrow am I obligated to confess wanting to strangle this man? Kidding. I’m glad someone got his sins wiped clean. Just wish it could have been me.

St. John Nepomucene, pray for us!

Memento Mori

A quick but all too important thought at the end of this long day for me as I prepare to get my slumber before waking in the morning to attend the funeral of a friend’s father.

Death comes for each of us. It comes when God Almighty wills it.

I remember all too well the bleak January day almost six years ago. I was driving like mad through the spine of the Appalachians trying to reach New Jersey before my father’s imminent demise. Mom called me. I know I-81 like the back of my hand, sadly, so I took the call and almost forgot my driving for a moment.

“I wanted to tell you that your father died a few moments ago.”

It was how she described it that was so striking. “He breathed out a few minutes ago and didn’t take another breath in.” And I instantly hated that I had pulled into that rest area in southern Virginia to catch a catnap a few hours earlier. I was four hours away.

Seven Sorrows of the Blesses Mother, stained glass, Shrine of Mother Seton, Emmitsburg, MD

CS Lewis in Screwtape wrote to the effect that time is God’s. We didn’t create it. We don’t manage it. We live in it and He decides how much of it belongs to us. We get so mad when others “waste our time” or “monopolize our time”. It simply is not ours to begin with.

Especially in these days… Stay confessed.

Mary Refuge of Sinners, pray for us!

TLM West Virginia/ Harrisburg: Finally Saw a Canon in Action

I’m combining yesterday and today into one exposition.

Yesterday the kids and I drove through the town of Charles Town, WV. This eastern panhandle hamlet had been previously known to me as the home of a horse racing track and that’s about it. Mass is offered here by the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem.

“So what’s a canon?” you ask. Short answer: canons are priests who live in community following the rule of St. Augustine. These canons were established by Cardinal Burke when he was Archbishop of St. Louis and somehow made their way to West Virginia. The church, a small-ish structure on a quiet tree-lined street downtown is unassuming from the outside. Stepping inside, though, I found a structure that was a tribute to the people who had transformed it into the home of Our Lord.

A couple of oddities(?) I noticed. First, this was a dialogue mass. These aren’t common in TLM communities. Typically the people only chime in at a high mass. Personally, I tend to follow along in my missal, silently (or at least extremely quietly) praying along the whole mass. There were only four other congregants this day. This was also unusual to me. I come from a large parish where the infants on hips outnumber the elderly (and there are many of them too). I dutifully followed along, brushing up on my Latin responses along the way. I’m hoping to learn to serve mass myself. You never know when it will be necessary. Humility will direct me to ask my 7 year-old nephew for help when I return home. The final quirk here was that the priest read the Epistle and Gospel in English from the altar. I suspect this is a TC thing and I don’t like it. Enough said.

Notice the canon hiding in plain sight. Priory of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mother, Charles Town, WV

Today my guardian angel violently woke me at an ungodly hour. I had asked him to do that so I had to comply. Mass at St. Lawrence in Harrisburg, PA was only at 7:10 and it’s a 20 minute drive from here. Fortunately I’ve been coming here for a few years whenever I visit my sister and I not only know some of the parishioners but also the parish well. This is a beautiful church one block in from the Susquehanna River and one block out from the State Capitol. The diocesan cathedral sits between the two. This parish has a full mass schedule (Sunday-Saturday) and is run by the FSSP.

It is what happened right before mass that I want to tell you about here. I try to go to frequent confession. Even though we were running late, we made it in the door at 7:05. I prayed a priest would be in the box. I find Our Lord tends to answer these prayers quite favorably. I noticed a woman exiting the confessional so I quickly stepped in the door. I imagine Fr. was hoping he’d be free to step out and vest for mass. Instead he got me.

Fr. gave me a manly penance. I LIKE MANLY PENANCES. I do not like “Think about something nice about someone…” Still wonder why I tradded?

Again, St Rita makes her appearance (first window on the left). St. Lawrence, Harrisburg, PA

And then Fr. invited me (not as part of my penance) to consider practicing daily mortification. He even suggested some tips. In mass I have been meditating of late on Our Lord’s passion. I find myself saying, “Lord Jesus, let me take you down from the cross. My sins put You there. This isn’t fair.” Then I remember His words to Peter when Peter scoffed at the idea of Our Lord’s crucifixion.

“Get there behind me, Satan.”

He called him Satan. Clearly, I can’t take Him down. This is how He satisfied the debt of my sins and still gives Himself to me daily. Instead I have come to understand that He is inviting me gently to be drawn up to the cross with Him. These daily penances, these “mortifications” will be the way. Thank you, my Lord! Give me to suffer with Thee for my sins, my family, the world!

Then Fr. finished by saying, “Go in peace, but let me go first.” You see, he needed to get to the sacristy but didn’t want to see any of his penitents. Good man.

May your days be penitential, folks.

Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!