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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do it even if the Bishops think it's a good idea

Cardinal Dolan in a snappy hat.
Last year, Brad reported on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops possibly reinstating meatless Fridays. Well, seems that they are still following that theme. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, of the Foam Finger, and president of the USCCB said yesterday in his address to the General Assembly of the conference:

And so it turns to us, my brothers. How will we make the Year of Faith a time to renew the Sacrament of Penance, in our own loves and in the lives of our beloved people whom we serve? Once again, we will later this week approach the Sacrament of Penance.
And we'll have the opportunity during this meeting to approve a simple pastoral invitation to all our faithful to join us in renewing our appreciation for and use of the Sacrament. We will "Keep the Light On" during the upcoming Advent Season!
The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent. Our pastoral plan offers numerous resources for catechesis on the Sacrament of Penance, and the manifold graces that come to us from the frequent use of confession. Next June we will gather in a special assembly as brother bishops to pray and reflect on the mission entrusted to us by the Church, including our witness to personal conversion in Jesus Christ, and so to the New Evangelization. 

That's a pretty big proposal. And a good one.

But may I interject a couple of things? I may? Thanks.

1. I am not sure people listen to their bishops much anymore. It's not "okay" but seemingly it's the case. I am of the mindset that the only Catholics bishops really have any power over are the clergy. I've noticed that when some initiative by the bishops doesn't get popular acceptance, without fail, within a week or two, the USCCB or sometimes the Vatican, will make some statement about priests for priests. Things like "you guys better wear those collars" or "use the Catechism more"! Oh wait, I guess we don't listen either. Pity that. Regardless, our bishops are very special. They are still the chief shepherds of their diocese and the primary teacher in faith and morals but there is a lapse between what they say and what is heard.

They also write really long prayers, but that's another subject.
One of the shorter of the long USCCB prayers.

2. Given that number 1 is true, then it still is not too much to consider that the practice of one's faith shouldn't be dictated by the bishop. I observe the Friday days of penance. No meat. Sometimes no fish! And on First Fridays, I throw in an extra act of penance. It's not just a priest thing. It's a Catholic thing. ANYONE CAN PRACTICE MEATLESS FRIDAYS! Even the hip, cool fitness folks are into the meatless day thing and it looks like it may be institutionalized. So, why not recapture or capture our tradition? You don't need a bishop to tell you that.
This is a real thing. On Monday? But that's BACON day!

Second, penance. In our diocese, the DIOCESE OF THE NEW PARADIGM, the Eucharist is going through a revision. Shhh...just listen.
Today's Guest Confessor is Jesus.
There is a shift from the parish as a place of Catholic culture where the pastor is the formator of that culture to small missions headed by a lay minister and Sunday celebrations are held in the absence of a priest regularly and normally. This creates a lack of formation in going to Confession.
On a grander scale, priests don't promote penance. We're too busy. We don't like guilting people. We get bored. We have a golf game. We don't know what a sin is anymore. All sorts of things that are on the shoulders of the priest. However, in Oxford and at least in Starkville (our dark universe doppleganger parish), penance is celebrated regularly and there are LINES OF PEOPLE waiting to go. YOUNG PEOPLE. YOUNG NORMAL PEOPLE. THEY GO TO CONFESSION. AND WE SEEM TO HAVE TIME TO DO IT.

Ahem.

So, good for the bishops and their initiative but even if you're not listening to them:

GO MEATLESS ON FRIDAY.
GO TO CONFESSION MORE OFTEN.

Be Catholic. For your good and the good of His Holy Church.