Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Feast of Corpus Christi - Thursday, May 31 at 6PM



As is tradition, on Thursday, May 31, 2018, at 6PM, there will be a Solemn Mass to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi - on its traditional day.

Immediately following the Mass, there will be an outdoor Procession (with triple Benediction) around midtown Manhattan. This year will be Holy Innocents’ 9th annual outdoor Blessed Sacrament Procession for this traditional celebration.

Newly ordained Fr. Leo Joseph Camurati will be the Celebrant of this Solemn Mass. At the end of the Mass and Procession, Fr. Leo Joseph will confer his priestly blessing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Absolving Penitents without Admonition

Question. A certain confessor enjoys quite a reputation for expediting matters in the confessional. As a rule, he pays no attention to the different classes of penitents who approach his confessional. He rarely asks a question; He allows the penitent to tell his sins without interruption, and then if he thinks him at all disposed, he absolves him immediately, without any word of instruction or admonition. On the vigils of great feasts, when the number of penitents is very great, he does not permit his penitents to make a full confession, but when they have told one or the other sin, he admonishes them to tell the rest of their sins in their next confession, and then absolves and dismisses them. He maintains that he is justified in acting thus, because otherwise he would never be able to hear all the people who come to him. To instruct or to admonish penitents in the confessional is not an essential part of the Sacrament of Penance, he says, nor is the confessor strictly bound to interrogate the penitent, provided the penitent confesses “materiam suficientem.” What must be thought of his method of action?
Answer. The practise of this confessor is certainly blameworthy, because he is neglecting certain strict obligations that are binding on the confessor's conscience.
First, as regards the practice of dismissing all penitents indiscriminately, without admonition or instruction. Benedict XIV, in his encyclical letter, Apostolica Constitutio, of July 26, 1749, issued for the jubilee of the following year, admonishes all confessors that they do not discharge the obligations of their office, but, on the contrary, that they are guilty of mortal sin, if, while sitting in the sacred tribunal of Penance, they show no solicitude for their penitents, but, without admonition or instruction, absolve them immediately they have finished the recital of their sins. The words of the Encyclical are as follows:
Ut meminerint suscepti muneris partes non implere, imo vera gravioris criminis reos esse eos omnes, qui cum in sacro Pœnitentiæ tribunali resident, pœnitentes audiunt, non monent, non interrogant, sed expleta criminum enumerations, absolutionis formam illico proferunt.
Every priest who exercises the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance is, according to the uniform teaching of the theologians, a teacher, a physician and a judge. As a teacher he is bound to instruct the penitent concerning the things that are, hic et nunc, required for the worthy reception of the Sacrament, as well as in the things he ought to know, in order to be able to lead a Christian life. As a physician of souls, he is required to investigate the causes of the spiritual illness of his penitents, that is to say, the nature and causes of their sins, in order to apply suitable spiritual remedies in each and every case. And, finally, as every judge is obliged to hear and to study the whole case of the culprit before him, to consider its various phases and to weigh justly all extenuating or aggravating circumstances before he renders a final judgment; so likewise does the office of the confessor require of him, as a judge in the court of conscience, that he study the state of the penitent’s conscience, and consider his dispositions and judge of his firm purpose of amendment, and then only to give or deny him absolution.
Now it is evident that the confessor mentioned in this case does not and cannot fulfil this threefold duty of teacher, physician and judge. His purpose is not to instruct and to heal and to judge; his purpose is to hear and to absolve as many penitents as possible. It stands to reason, of course, that where the number of those desiring to confess is very great, and they are for the most part pious souls, who are accustomed to approach the sacred tribunal of Penance frequently and have at the most only venial sins to confess, and the confessor knows that they are sufficiently instructed concerning the Sacrament of Penance, and rightly disposed, it stands to reason, I say, that the confessor may dispatch his work expeditiously, because such penitents do not need the spiritual care and help of the confessor in order to receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily and with profit.
But to proceed in the same manner with all penitents indiscriminately, whether they be known or unknown to the confessor, even with the ignorant and the poorly instructed, whether they confess mortal sins or venial sins, is certainly not to administer the Sacrament of Penance as we are bound by grave obligations to administer it. For experience proves that there are those who approach this holy tribunal unprepared, who have not sufficiently examined their conscience, who through false shame hesitate to confess certain sins, who are lacking in true contrition, though believing themselves contrite, because they have repeated orally the act of contrition. Now the prudent and careful confessor, whose earnest desire is to fulfil this holy ministry validly and licitly, with fruit and with profit, as the Church ordains that it shall be fulfilled, will endeavor to discover and correct the faults and defects and shortcomings of his penitents, by prudently questioning and instructing and disposing them, lest their confession be fruitless or even sacrilegious.
If the penitent confess mortal sins, he ought to be admonished of their heinousness, in order that he may be moved to realize his spiritual condition and abhor his sins and take the necessary means of shunning them in the future. If such penitents be absolved and dismissed incontinently from the sacred tribunal without a word of admonition or advice, they will very likely consider their sins of little consequence and never come to a realization of the necessity of correcting them, and thus will they speedily fall into them again.
Every confessor who has had experience of souls in the tribunal of Penance appreciates the gravity of this danger. For this very reason the Roman Ritual admonishes confessors to be careful to instruct their penitents regarding the condition of their souls, endeavoring to make them realize the number and gravity of their sins and to dispose them to contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.
“Demum, audita confessione, perpendens peccatorum, quae ille admisit, magnitudinem et multitudinem, pro eorum gravitate, ac penitentis conditione, opportune correptiones ac monitiones, prout opus esse viderit, paterna charitate adhibebit et ad dolorem et contritionem efdcacibus verbis adducere conabitur, atque ad vitam emendandam ac melius instituendam inducet, remediaque peccatorum tradet.”
The great number of penitents waiting to be heard does not excuse the confessor from the obligation of admonishing, correcting and disposing them, so that the reception of the Sacrament of Penance may be of benefit to them. St. Francis Xavier was accustomed to say that it was better to hear a few confessions, and to hear them well, than to hear a great many and to only half hear them. And St. Alfonsus says that it matters little whether there be others waiting to confess or whether some will be obliged to depart without being heard; for on the day of judgment the confessor will have to render an account of those he actually heard, and not of the others.
“Parum refert, quod alii expectant aut inconfessi discedant; confessarius enim de hoc tantum, qui sibi nunc confitetur, non vero de aliis, in die judicii rationem reddere debet” (Praxis confess. n.7).
Again it is quite blameworthy that the confessor, on the eves of great festivals, when the number of confessions is very great, should permit the penitent to confess only one or two sins and then absolve him, with the admonition to confess his other sins in his next confession. It is expressly stated in all moral theologies that the number of penitents desiring to be heard in confession can never be a valid or just reason for making only a partial confession, even though many must depart unheard and unshriven.
Under all such circumstances, a full and integral confession of all mortal sins is required of the penitent, sub gravi. The practice of absolving penitents without permitting them to confess all their mortal sins, because otherwise many must depart without absolution, is expressly condemned by Pope Innocent XI, in the 59th proscribed proposition.
“Licet sacramentaliter absolvere, dimidiate tantum confessos, ratione magni concursus penitentium, qualis v. g. potest contingere in die magnae alicujus festivitatis vel indulgentiæ.”
The reason why this proposition was condemned, says Billuart, is that the harm done by sending some penitents away unheard is not so great, as to justify a partial confession, especially when there is danger of absolving the unworthy, by reason of the precipitation with which the confessions are heard and the omission of a part of one’s sins.
~The Casuist, Volume II, 1908.